Trust the process

Women’s tennis attempts to maintain consistent mindset from last season

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Trust the process

EWU junior Rylee Braeden looks to backhand the ball during a recent practice. Braeden figures to be one of EWU’s top players this season.

EWU junior Rylee Braeden looks to backhand the ball during a recent practice. Braeden figures to be one of EWU’s top players this season.

Mackenzie Ford

EWU junior Rylee Braeden looks to backhand the ball during a recent practice. Braeden figures to be one of EWU’s top players this season.

Mackenzie Ford

Mackenzie Ford

EWU junior Rylee Braeden looks to backhand the ball during a recent practice. Braeden figures to be one of EWU’s top players this season.

By Drew Lawson, Sports Editor

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Last season, the EWU women’s tennis team enjoyed its most successful campaign in head coach Dustin Hinson’s seven-year tenure and the best regular season Big Sky Conference record in school history (8-2) before falling in the first round of the BSC Championship to Southern Utah. 

This year, the goal is to keep the same mindset as last year, with a familiar message from Hinson.

“Trust the process,” junior Zoey Nelson said. 

Junior Rylee Braeden echoed that message. 

“Things may not fall our way, but we always have to learn from it and get better,” Braeden said.

EWU has seven players on its roster this year. Six of the players are returners: Nelson, Braeden, senior Marta Heinen, junior Stephanie Broussard and sophomores Yasmin Mansouri and Louise Waite. 

EWU’s lone newcomer is freshman Renata Gabuzyan, who hails from British Columbia. Hinson said EWU discovered Gabuzyan through a connection with Mansouri, who is also from B.C. Mansouri told Hinson about Gabuzyan, and from there the recruiting hat was on for Hinson. 

“(Mansouri) grew up with Renata, so that was a little bit of a link,” Hinson said. “I feel like anytime we get someone on campus for a visit, we put a good foot forward.”

Nelson and Braeden are pleased with how Gabuzyan has integrated with the team.

“She fits in really well,” Braeden said. “As expected, as a freshman she was nervous at her first (match), but she came back strong and she knows what to do now.”

Hinson said his expectation for the team is similar this year to last year. Last year, he expected his team to perform well in BSC play, a goal he felt EWU met. 

“I think now, given that experience, they feel like they can meet or exceed what they did last year,” -Dustin Hinson, EWU head coach

Braeden and Nelson are expected to be EWU’s top doubles pair this season, while Braeden should be the top singles player. 

EWU has played in two matches thus far this season, holding a 1-1 record. The Eagles knocked off Seattle University 5-2 on Jan. 10 before falling to the University of Washington 0-7 on Jan. 12. Against Seattle U, EWU got the doubles point and got singles victories from Nelson, Braeden, Mansouri and Waite. 

Hinson was pleased with EWU’s performance overall in the first two games, saying the team got over its nerves quickly at Seattle U and competed well at UW, despite the sweep.

“We went in there and I feel like we really performed well,” Hinson said. “We had really good points. Score doesn’t necessarily reflect how close points were (and) how close games were. We were right there.”

EWU has three more nonconference matches before entering BSC play (vs Whitworth, at Gonzaga and at Washington State). EWU was picked fourth in the BSC preseason poll. All home matches are on EWU’s campus on the outdoor tennis courts by the soccer field.