Women's Tennis Pushing for Another Strong Season
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The Westmont women’s tennis team has been one of the school’s most successful sports programs. When coach Kathy LeSage announced she was going to be stepping down, the team and college waited anxiously to see who would take over the prestigious position after LeSage’s nearly two decades as head coach of the women’s tennis team.
The Westmont women’s tennis team has produced 27 NAIA All-Americans, 11 NAIA Scholar Athletes, 23 All GSAC players and two NAIA National Coach of the Years. While many of the other sports programs receive a bigger portion of the spotlight, the women’s tennis team is consistently one of the most talented teams in the NAIA.
When Dave Odell announced that Kendyll McManigal was going to take over, the women’s tennis community knew its team was in good hands. The former Westmont women’s tennis player and graduate played under LeSage.
McManigal will bring an upbeat and up-tempo style to the team this year. “I think that Kendyll is a great coach and is energetic, passionate, and pushes us really hard and encourages us to be better,” said Alyson Meyer, a third-year player from Ventura, Calif.
Meyer added, “She helps us do drills that will make us a better team, is strict in a good way and encourages us to be disciplined. Her way of coaching sets us up to succeed.”
McManigal made an immediate impact on the program, bringing the top women’s tennis prospect in Santa Barbara, Lauren Stratman, to Westmont. Stratman was undefeated (135–0) in her four-year career as a Charger at Dos Pueblos High School, and she set many Southern California records.
Later that month, Kate Stratman,who is now a freshman, announced she would also be joining the Warrior’s tennis team. Kate, like her sister Lauren, also has a high school record of success, and will bring a one-two punch to the Warriors for seasons to come.
The women’s tennis team is extremely young, without a single senior, and is built around a solid lineup, one through six. The Warriors also have great depth on the roster with enough team members to rotate players between singles and doubles. The two Stratman sisters often play doubles together and have been one of the better pairs for the Warriors thus far into the season.
The team lost two incredible senior players in Tara Yekrang and Nicci Yvanovich this season, who were the No. 1 and No. 2 players in singles. The two players also played in doubles together at times, and were a key to LeSage’s success.
The team is currently 6–10, but 4–2 in GSAC play, which boasts one of the deepest and strongest conferences for women’s tennis. The GSAC has three teams in the top 25, with Vanguard No. 9, Westmont No.12 and Concordia No.13.
“This season has been really hard; we have had a lot of tough matches. Kendyll scheduled twice as many games as last year and against really good opponents, like DI and DII schools,” stated Meyer about this season.
With a 4–2 GSAC record the team is on pace to finish second in the GSAC, and have another shot at beating Vanguard, but this time in the GSAC Tournament Finals. Vanguard has gotten the best of the Warriors this season, defeating them twice on scores of 3–5 and 4–5 throughout the regular season. Both the coaches and players felt that they could have beaten the Lions in each game of those matches and will be looking for revenge in the future.
“The rest of the season will be the rest of the GSAC teams that we have consistently beat in the past, so we will hopefully finish the season well. It will really come down to the GSAC Tournament where we are hoping to face Vanguard,” Meyer stated.
If the Warriors can beat the remaining GSAC teams and beat Vanguard in the GSAC, it will be the 15th time the Warriors have won the GSAC Tournament, and it would be hopefully the first of many GSAC Championships for head coach McManigal.
The team is sure to build off this year and will continue to be one of the top programs in the GSAC and the NAIA. With the team being young and talented, the Westmont tennis community is expecting big things out of this team and their new coach Kendyll McManigal.