Jan. 21, 2013
By Matt Winkeljohn
The scoreboard suggested that the holiday weekend was so-so day for Georgia Tech, but the women’s team is at a point early in the “spring” season where the score doesn’t matter as much as it will later.
On Monday, No. 39 Elizabeth Kilborn beat No. 35 Katie Vasenina of South Florida 6-1, 2-6, 6-1 on a day when No. 20 Tech beat No. 43 USF in five of six singles matches in the Michigan Invitational. Monday was the best day of three for the Yellow Jackets, who are stilling catching up to their peers indoors.
Obtaining experience matters more now, and it can be a vexing process. There was no better evidence than on Sunday, when the Jackets were swept in doubles by South Florida and then turned around and did the same thing to Ole Miss.
Head coach Rodney Harmon may not be surprised by the up-and-down work of his team Saturday, Sunday and Monday as teams played each other in round-robin style.
Unlike most or perhaps all other teams in Michigan, the Jackets have not been – at least not prior to Friday, Jan. 11 – practicing indoors. In the fall, with the Byers Tennis Complex under construction, they practiced atop the Peters Parking Deck regardless of weather conditions.
For those who don’t know from experience, the games of tennis indoors and outdoors are not the same.
“It’s a big difference,” Harmon said. “The conditions are much faster indoors; things happen much faster. The lighting is different. You have to adjust to the noise, the echo. The game is played differently indoors. You have to play so much more aggressively indoors.”
Harmon is more interested in upcoming results. The Jackets will play in the ITA Kickoff Weekend Saturday and Sunday at Nebraska, and then after a home match against Vanderbilt on Feb. 2, they’ll hopefully play in the ITA National Indoors Championships Feb. 8-11 at Virginia.
There will be more indoor work in the future schedule depending on weather at Tech and on road trips. By then, it should not seem so new to the No. 20 Jackets.
“What we really have to do is get enough matches to get ready for the kickoff weekend,” Harmon said. “We’re in one of the stronger regions with No. 19 Notre Dame, Nebraska is No. 17, and Tennessee is 23.
“We’re all right there together in the rankings, but the difference is we haven’t been able to play indoors until last Friday. We were at a huge disadvantage. We’re playing indoors now to try to get experience.”
The Jackets are healthier than they were in the fall, although Harmon said he may have to slow down Alex Anghelescu so that she does not re-injure her foot. After a fall spent mostly on the sidelines, Muriel Wacker has put in some good doubles work.”
Nebraska will be a tough trip. Michigan has been a tough trip, and not just because the Jackets have been acclimating to playing indoors. It’s been cold in Ann Arbor.
“With the wind, it’s been well below freezing,” the coach said. “I can’t wait to pack up and get back to Atlanta.”
At least Tech didn’t have to practice or play in the nasty weather at Michigan.