UWL women’s tennis team to compete for a spot at nationals


Katie Kearney. Image retrieved from uwlathletics.com.

Gianna Fussell, Sports Reporter

The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse men’s and women’s tennis teams started their spring competition program in February 2023, following their fall program.

Last fall, the women’s team played six Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) teams: UW-Oshkosh, UW-River Falls, UW-Whitewater, UW-Stout, UW-Eau Claire, and UW-Stevens Point. The women’s team won four of the six games. In addition, the women also played at the UW-Whitewater Warhawk Invitational, the ITA Midwest Regional/Gustie Fall Invitational, and against Lawrence University.

The WIAC Conference Championships were held at Nielsen Tennis Stadium in Madison in October 2022, and the women’s team placed fourth. “The whole WIAC tournament is in the fall, and that’s an individual-based tournament,” said Katie Kearney, a UWL senior on the women’s tennis team. “You could place as an individual player at your spot, so if you play one singles you’re playing all the girls that play that spot. One person comes out of there as a champion.” Singles and doubles teams are ranked separately from each other.

While the women’s tennis team has a Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC), the men’s team does not. The men’s tennis team played at the ITA Midwest Regional multiple times last fall.

Because there is no official WIAC for men’s tennis, the team plays in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) in the spring program. Along with UWL, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Eau Claire, and UW-Whitewater also play in this conference. The conference is composed of 14 total teams including the WIAC schools, and the men’s tennis site can be found here.

“In 2019-20, the conference added the State University of New York at Oneonta, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater as affiliate members in the sport of men’s tennis,” the NJAC athletics website said. UW-Stevens Point was added in 2022-23 as an affiliate member of men’s tennis.

The men’s team lost 0-9 against Carleton College on Jan. 29. On Feb. 4, the men’s teams played against Morningside University and Coe College. They lost 0-9 against Morningside University and lost 1-8 against Coe College. In their next five games between Feb. 10 and March 5, the men’s team won against four with scores of 7-2, 9-0, 9-0, and 5-4.

The women’s team has a spring program that consists of competitions against teams outside of the WIAC, except for the WIAC Automatic Qualifying Tournament. “When we get back to school in late January, early February, we start again and have our entire out-of-conference season,” Kearney said.

The women’s team had their first game against Wartburg College on Feb. 18 and won with a score of 9-0. They played Bethel University (MN) on March 5 and lost 3-6.

At the end of April, the women’s tennis team will play against UW-Whitewater as a part of the WIAC Automatic Qualifying Tournament to get the Division III National Championship bid. The top four teams in the WIAC Championship in the previous fall program will play to receive the bid.

Kearney said, “The last week of April, the top four teams that placed at our conference tournament in the fall get to play for a chance to go to nationals as a team. So the top team that comes out of that gets to go to nationals.” Unlike the fall, the team score is what allows a team to move on to the next round, and eventually play at nationals.

Over spring break, the tennis teams traveled to Orlando, Florida. “This is the first time the guys and the girls got to travel together throughout the year because there is no WIAC for boys,” Kearney said.

Both teams played four games in Orlando. Originally, five games were scheduled, but the first game for both teams was rained out. The women’s team won all four games they played, which were against the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (TX), Springfield College (MA), Roger Williams University (RI), and College of St. Scholastica (MN). The men’s team competed against the same schools and lost all four games.

“It’s a lot of fun because usually, we don’t get to watch each other play,” Kearney said. “Our team chemistry is good.”

The men’s tennis site can be found here and the women’s tennis site can be found here.