LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- The 2014 Covenant women's tennis team set new heights for the program. The Lady Scots won a school-record 16 contests and advanced to the USA South Tournament semifinal in a season for the record books. The Lady Scots finished the year 16-8 overall and 10-2 in the USA South.
In head coach John Hirte's second season at the helm, Covenant won 12 more contests than in the 2013 year. The ladies smashed the previous program record of 12 for wins in a season and also set a new mark for conference victories with 10.
Individually, freshman Gracie Smith placed her mark on the program record book with 16 singles victories. Smith, a local product from Chattanooga, Tenn., and Chattanooga Christian, is already more than halfway to the program record for singles wins in a career. Smith also had 11 doubles wins and was a third team USA South selection.
Smith was not the only star this season. Junior Gretchen Rowe won nine singles matches at the No. 2 position and had a 7-2 mark in the USA South which earned her a spot on the All-USA South second team.
Freshman Claire Luger was second on the team with 12 singles wins and fellow freshman Ellen Kirkpatrick tallied 11 victories. Sophomore Lindsay Geving, in her first year of collegiate tennis, produced 10 singles wins and was Covenant's representative on the USA South All-Sportsmanship team.
Seven players had double-digit doubles wins on the year. Luger led the way with 14, while Rowe added 12. Smith, Molly Peele and Sarah Carter each had 11 wins. Madeline Hyatt and Geving had 10 apiece. Kirkpatrick finished with nine doubles victories.
Covenant had two separate six-match winning streaks during the year. The first started with a USA South victory over Greensboro on February 28 and was capped with an 8-1 win over Johnson on March 14. After dropping three of four in a span of five days, Covenant rebounded by winning six straight, including five wins inside the USA South, from March 26-April 5.
The victories catapulted the Lady Scots into the three-seed for the USA South Tournament in mid-April. After dispatching Maryville 6-3 in the opening round, Covenant fell to Meredith 6-3 in the semifinals to end the season with a 16-8 record.
Entering the season, the Lady Scots were projected to place eighth in the USA South in the league's preseason coaches poll. During the year, Covenant dropped just two regular season conference contests and both of those came to the teams that finished first and second in the league (Methodist and Meredith).
Covenant won 16 contests despite a schedule that saw the Lady Scots play three eventual NCAA tournament participants in Berry, Methodist and Sewanee.
The season was made even better with the completion of the brand new, on-campus tennis complex. The six-court complex, with lights, was ready for play on March 15 and the Lady Scots rattled off two wins against LaGrange and Johnson to break in the new courts.
The program graduates three players, Hyatt, Rowe and Peele, but several underclassmen look to return in 2015 and build upon the success of the 2014 campaign.
USA South All-Conference
Gretchen Rowe - 2nd team
Gracie Smith - 3rd team
USA South All-Sportsmanship