Women’s Tennis on fire to start off season undefeated

Coach Lise Gregory applauds her team during a match.

UNCA Athletics

Coach Lise Gregory applauds her team during a match.

Israel Garcia-Perez, [email protected], Sports writer

After their recent wins against Limestone University, the women’s team is starting off their season with a perfect record. 

“It’s hard to have firm expectations and predictions in tennis because anything can happen on the tennis court. However, we had a good pre-season last fall and showed dedication both on and off the court. I think we approached these first matches with confidence and trust in our game. This preparation and mentality reflect our results, and has shown that what we are doing is right,” said Beatrice Faureng, a sophomore on the women’s tennis team. 

Faureng said the open environment at practice and matches creates a productive, winning atmosphere within the group. 

“This also takes away a bit the seriousness I think sometimes can build up to anxiety and stress, so I think balance is a good word to describe that, to know when we are joking at the right time and when we work hard and focus at the right time,” Faureng said.

Coming from a disappointing last year, the women’s tennis team is looking to get back on track. 

“Honestly, last year was not successful. It was a very disappointing season due to COVID issues and injuries. This year, we are just taking the season one match at a time,” said Lise Gregory, head coach of the UNCA women’s tennis team.

Health challenges – injury-related and COVID-19-related – took a toll on the group last year, but the team goal this year is for everyone to stay healthy and continue on a winning streak. 

“We are off to a really good start to the season because I know we put in a lot of hard work in the fall with pre pre-season, so our hard work is paying off. I am looking forward to the other matches and to see how our season goes. I think the team is prepared really well for this season, not just physically but also mentally. We are all healthy and mentally ready to compete,” said Linge Steenkamp, a sophomore on the women’s tennis team.

With only one freshman joining the team this year, the women’s tennis team consists of players with much collegiate experience already under their belts. 

Even with many seasoned players, Faureng said the group must remain focused and willing to improve in order to keep their undefeated streak alive. 

“Our main focus is to become a better tennis player each day. We strive to be better each week and each match, which keeps us motivated. The focus on being better every day helps us stay focused and perform well, even under pressure. We hold each other accountable and celebrate all success as a team because we know each one of us are equally important for the team to do well,” Faureng said. 

Gregory said the team is composed of a diverse group of young women who are very successful in the classroom and are a lot of fun to watch on the court.

“We have a group of individuals on this team who want to get better and who have bought into the program. If we do a good job with those things under our control, I believe we can have a lot of success,” Gregory said. 

This year marks 15 years leading the helm at UNCA for Gregory, who hails from Durban, South Africa, as well as her 23rd year as a collegiate tennis head coach. 

“I was the head coach at Florida State for eight years and my partner was offered a position on the faculty at Western Carolina University. I made the decision to move up to this area with her. When the UNC Asheville job opened up, I jumped at the opportunity to get back into coaching,” Gregory said. 

According to Faureng, Gregory’s expertise serves as one of the main reasons the team continues to perform at a high level. 

“Coach Gregory cares about the players both on and off the court. This creates trust both between coach and players, as well as between players. Coach Gregory has played at the professional level, which means she has great experience and understanding of how to think and play under pressure. Her long career within coaching also means that she knows how to coach different personalities, making her a valuable and important resource for the UNCA women’s tennis team,” Faureng said. 

Gregory said she aims to create a program culture for her players to work smartly, put team goals first and create a respectful environment for all to enjoy. 

“Our team is very hardworking, determined, holding the rope not only for our team, but for the University of Asheville,” Steenkamp said. 

The women’s tennis team will be facing off against Davidson College in their upcoming match at home, on Feb. 11.