By (Ben Boynton)

The No. 18 The University of Alabama women’s tennis team faces a tough challenge Feb. 15 when it travels to Charlottesville, Virginia, to take on the No. 9 University of Virginia Cavaliers. The Crimson Tide is currently 2-3 after losing its last three matches, all against ranked teams, in the ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championship.

The matches may not have resulted in victories for Alabama, but the team still got some positives from their time in Madison, Wisconsin.

“We learned a lot,” sophomore Bennett Dunn said. “We learned that we need to play better as a team and play more together.”

The Crimson Tide faced then-No. 5 North Carolina, who finished a point shy of earning their third championship in four years at the tournament. Alabama also squared off against then-No. 10 Oklahoma State and then-No. 17 Texas Tech. Those are three challenging tennis teams that Alabama had to play in the span of three days, all on the road.

Coach Jenny Mainz believes that playing tough teams early on will help prepare the team for the grueling competition that SEC play will bring. She also said the experience was instructive.

“Going in, I thought it was a very competitive field,” Mainz said. “We played three really good teams, and the biggest lesson we take out of it is that we can play with anyone in the country, but we have to believe it. We have to sink our teeth in early and be ready to compete from the first point. We did not do a great job of that.”

The schedule doesn’t let up for the Crimson Tide. After Viriginia, Alabama faces a home match against No. 25 Northwestern. Mainz wants the team to compete better early on in matches and believes the team has to avoid digging themselves into a hole to have success. She also believes the team has to play hard to come away with wins.

“We’ve got to compete better,” Mainz said. “We have to be ready time in and time out to compete. We have to be ready to be run down every ball, to be resilient, to be mentally tough on the big points, to be stubborn and unwilling to give away any free points. I think if we do those things consistently, we’re going to do fine. We’re going to have a good season and be successful.”

Alabama has its first opportunity to do so when it takes on No. 9 Virginia on Feb. 15 at 3 p.m. CT.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports