Behind a strong freshmen class and a culture focussed on progress, Cal Poly Women’s Tennis has kicked off the 2020 season with a 9-2 record. Not only do the Mustangs hold the best record among Big West Conference teams, but they have already collected more wins than each of their previous six seasons.
“All these years I’ve been here we’ve focused on the process and getting better every day, and so it’s been a few years coming,” head coach Katharina Winterhalter said. “We’ve gotten a little bit better every year and everything is clicking.”
The Mustangs won six straight matches to start the season until San Diego State handed them their first loss of the year Feb. 16. Cal Poly’s only other loss came at the hands of No. 26 Arizona State.
With a 4-2 record on the road, Cal Poly remains unbeaten at Mustang Tennis Complex.
Cal Poly has a 1-0 Big West Conference record so far after taking down UC Davis on Feb. 23. It was the first time Cal Poly defeated UC Davis since 2011. The Mustangs’ win over the Aggies has been the most memorable meeting of the season, according to Winterhalter.
“It was the first match where we lost the doubles point and came back to win it,” Winterhalter said. “I think being able to overcome that and coming out on top is a good thing and gives the players a lot of confidence.”
Freshmen standouts Delanie Dunkle and Melissa LaMette have contributed to the team’s success, boasting two of the three highest records on the team. LaMette is currently undefeated in singles with eight wins while Dunkle has a record of 6-1. In doubles, Dunkle and LaMette have the most wins on the team at 5-3.
“[The freshmen] are tough competitors, that’s really what it comes down to,” Winterhalter said.
Sophomore Emily Ackerman and senior Emily Monaghan have been key pieces of the Mustangs’ success as well. Monaghan has a singles record of 8-3 while Ackerman has just one loss at 5-1. Together, the two have a doubles record of 4-2.
Both LaMette and Dunkle praised the upperclassmen for making the freshmen feel like such a big part of the team. They also pointed out the positive culture within the team as a significant reason for Cal Poly’s success.
“We all hold each other accountable in a positive way,” Dunkle said. “We hold each other up and make sure we are all doing the right things because we have that shared goal.”
Cal Poly has not had a winning record since the 2010-11 season. But, with the help of a few young players and a mindset focussed on getting better every day, the Mustangs have made strides in their success.
“I think overall we’re trying to improve on certain details in our game and trying to be as consistent as possible in our positive attitudes and hard work,” LaMette said. “If we keep up that consistency, the wins will eventually come.”