LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- It is a new-look Covenant women's tennis team, under seventh-year head coach John Hirte, as the Scots are set to open the spring season this weekend. Covenant opens the season at Birmingham Southern on Saturday, Feb. 9.
The Scots return three players from last year's team that placed third in the USA South West Division and qualified for the conference tournament. With just one senior and six newcomers, Hirte's squad may be young, but also presents depth up and down the lineup.
Covenant was tabbed to finish third in the USA South West Division by the league's coaches in the annual preseason poll. Since joining the USA South, Covenant has put together a 41-8 record in league play.
With both top players from last year in Aly Hall and Annie DeLuca graduated, it is junior Esther Eddy's turn to move up into the No. 1 spot. A second team All-USA South West Division honoree last season, Eddy won 10 singles matches in 2018 and has 25 wins through her first two-plus years as a Scot.
Masha Lanska is the lone senior on the team, while sophomore Mariah Westra rounds out the three returning players. Lanska went 5-2 in singles play last year and collected four wins on the doubles side. Westra was utilized mostly in doubles competition in her rookie year where she grabbed four wins.
The newcomers are a mix of freshmen and upperclassmen. Juniors Sara Blauw and Margo Koby join the team for the first time. Blauw transferred into Covenant, while Koby has been a three-year player for the Covenant women's basketball team and will join tennis full-time once the basketball season concludes. Sophomores Justine Blick and Laney Beckwith join freshmen Anna Logan and Grace Terryberry to make up the rest of the new class and all four are expected to contribute in the lineup.
Covenant will be tested early in the season with non-conference matches against Birmingham Southern (Feb. 9), Oglethorpe (Feb. 16), and the home opener against Centre (Feb. 22). The Scots will also get a taste of USA South play, without having the matches count towards league standings, against LaGrange (Feb. 23), Piedmont (Feb. 26), Maryville (March 1), and Berea (March 2) in the early weeks of the season.
The conference opener against Berea on March 23 is also slated to be Senior Day for Lanska and men's tennis senior Trey Wood.
Covenant will host non-conference, region foes Berry (March 22) and Sewanee (April 5) and will finish the regular season at home against Maryville (April 20).
The USA South Tournament is set to begin on Friday, April 26 at LaGrange, Ga., as part of the USA South's Spring Festival. The top four teams from each division qualify for the tournament.
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