RIC Womenís Tennis Second Consecutive LEC Crown

by Brian Buonaiuto

 

Taking over for legendary coach Dick Ernst, who won four titles while compiling a 90-54-2 record over 13 years, figured to be a tall task for anyone to take on. New head coach Kelly Lange believes she is ready for the challenge.

 

"After playing for him during my four years here, I believe he was a good role model for me," says Lange. "I have a lot of respect for what he accomplished here."

 

Lange inherits a talented squad that was LEC Conference Champions last season and returns three starters. They also have an exciting newcomer in freshman Liz Barrette, who will be the teamís number one singles player.

 

"I am so excited to be here. I have not played a competitive match in two years and I canít wait for the season to start," said Barrette before disposing of her first opponent in three sets on Sept. 10.

 

Donna Vongratsavay, who was the number three singles player last year, moves up to the number two spot this season. Vongratsavay, who has battled major wrist problems, hopes to stay healthy all season. Her goals for the team, however, are a little more lofty. "I think we have the talent to go all the way this year," says Vongratsavay. "We have strong returnees as well as some good rookies."

 

Coach Lange shares her captainís optimism about this season. "I am really excited about the personality and talent on this team. I think itís going to be a great season."

 

Despite heavy influence from her former coach, Langeís style differs greatly from Coach Ernst. "Coach Ernst was more laid back. Coach Lange is more concerned about our well-being," said Vongratsavay. "With it being her first year, she is very cautious."

 

Meghan Mooney will serve as the teamís number three singles player, moving up from the number five spot she held as a freshman. Samantha Hedden will be the number number four with co-captain Kristin Mandsager and Sara Hebert rounding out the top six.

 

Liz Barrette and Donna Vongratsavay will team up to form a potent tandem at number one doubles. Megan Mooney and Kristin Mandsager will team up at number two while Samantha Hedden pairs up with Sara Hebert as the third doubles team.

 

The transition to a new coach can be a tough adjustment for any program to make but should be made easier by Coach Langeís familiarity with the Rhode Island College program. After defeating Salve Regina in their first match and with a talented group of players and a history of being one of the schools more successful teams, the womenís tennis team should be primed for another great season.


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