For many schools transitioning into NCAA Div. I athletics, their sports teams will experience significant growing pains while attempting to become competitive and relevant. The ACU women’s tennis team acclimated well to the change and had a successful season.
After a semifinal appearance at the 2013 Div. II national tournament, expectations remained high for the 2014 season despite the loss of three key seniors: Hannah Kelley, and Laura and Julia Mongin.
The Wildcats did not disappoint during their first year in the Southland Conference, finishing fourth out of 13 teams with a 9-3 conference record and 18-6 overall. Their position would typically be good enough for a playoff berth, but because of NCAA transition regulations, the women would have to settle for a trip to Nebraska and a spot in the National Invitational Tournament, which featured two other schools in the same court as the Wildcats.
The ‘Cats started the season 4-2 before rattling off seven consecutive wins, the latter three all part of the conference schedule. Two more winning streaks of four games and three games would compose the remainder of the team’s 18 wins.
At the National Invitational Tournament, ACU dominated its first match against the University of Nebraska-Omaha, 7-0, before falling to Grand Canyon University 5-2. The Wildcats walked away with a second place finish.
Doubles play was a consistent strength for the women, as they won the doubles point 18 times on the season. Leading the way was senior Micah Hermsdorf and her sister, sophomore Kaysie Hermsdorf. The sisters won 20 of 26 doubles matches, including 12 straight victories to start the season. Junior Brittney Reed and freshman Erin Walker were one win shy at 19-7, and senior Emily Conrad and sophomore Nada Marjanovic teamed up to reach a 16-10 record.
In singles, it was Marjanovic who led the team with a record of 20-5, including a 12-1 stretch that spread over the better part of two months. Micah Hermsdorf had a successful year at ACU’s No. 1 position, posting a record of 18-7. Walker finished at 15-10, Conrad at 13-10, Kaysie Hermsdorf hit .500 with a 13-13 record and Reed finished her season with four consecutive wins to reach 12-14.
The Wildcats’ seventh member, freshman Ansley Boarman, played five matches early in the season and posted two victories.
Micah Hermsdorf was named to the All-Southland Conference team in both singles and doubles, the latter alongside her sister, Kaysie.
As seniors, Micah Hermsdorf and Emily Conrad have played their final games in purple and white.
“Micah and Emily will be missed. They are both excellent competitors, great leaders and more importantly, amazing people,” said assistant coach John Walker. “They have been a huge blessing to ACU Tennis over the last four years and I’m sure they will be involved in a different way in the future. We as coaches have been blessed to work with them for four years.”
“Everyone here associated with this program is an absolute blessing to me,” said head coach Hutton Jones. “And as for Micah and Emily, they’re both just quality people – hard to find much better than the two of them.”
The task ahead is to find replacements for the departing seniors. Boarman is likely to fill in one of the spots, but there is still an opening on the roster. Whoever the coaches find, the goal for next year is to improve even further on the Wildcats’ successful first season in Div. I.
“I’m just happy that I got to be a part of the first tennis team to play in the Southland Conference for ACU,” said Micah Hermsdorf. “The team this year got to set the bar for teams to come. And we also put ACU on the map as a school that is tough and Div. I material. It’s great to finally be rewarded for our hard work.”