When talking to coaches, sometimes it's difficult for reporters to tell whether a coach is sincere in the things he or she is saying about her team or whether it's just "coach-speak." Does so-and-so team really have a chance to win the OVC this season or is this coach just telling me that because that's what he's supposed to say?
When I talked to women's tennis head coach Connie Keasling before the start of the spring season, I got a lot of optimism and a lot of excitement about the team's prospects, and looking at the roster and seeing all the returning players from last year's team that lost in the OVC Semifinals, I could pretty much deduce that Keasling was for real, and I tried to convey that in my story.
On Friday, the OVC released its preseason rankings, as put together by the league's coaches, and my suspicions were confirmed. The Racers received a No. 2 preseason ranking and may be Murray State's best hope for an OVC Championship in a spring sport. Rachael and Anna Lask comprise what is probably the best doubles team in the conference and the team has a plethora of freshmen who are playing like they've been here for a few go-arounds.
In fact, things are looking up for both tennis teams. The women soundly defeated Memphis last weekend and the men lost at Louisville, but managed to keep most of its matches close, which is saying a lot considering Louisville's 36th national rank. Hunter Gerlach said he felt like the match may have set the tone for the rest of the season. I guess that's why you schedule teams like Louisville as a coach. You're not gonna win, but if you play well, the confidence you can gain can carry you a long way, which hopefully will be the case with the men's team.