Over spring break, the Hillsdale College Chargers travelled south to Boca Raton and West Palm Beach, Florida, for three matches against south Florida schools, including the no. 2 ranked Lynn University Knights.
The Chargers dropped their matches against Lynn and Palm Beach Atlantic University, but defeated Broward College in a shortened match. In their Monday match against Lynn, Hillsdale lost 4 – 0 in a dominant performance by the Knights. On Wednesday, they beat Broward in an exhibition match 5 – 4 and lost to Palm Beach Atlantic 4 – 1.
A challenging lineup of matches paired with the team’s first time playing outside this year served as a training week, intended mostly to build experience before conference play.
“When we start travelling South for G-MAC, a lot times it’s nice enough to play outside but we haven’t even practiced out there,” coach Nikki Walbright said. “Spring break is really important because the game’s a lot different outside.”
Lynn and Palm Beach Atlantic gave Hillsdale tough competition, which Walbright said gave the team a clear vision of what to work on, especially in the closer Palm Beach Atlantic match.
“I feel like it was winnable, but we just weren’t quite ready to win a match like that because they’re definitely a high-level team,” she said. “But it gave us something to work on for the rest of the semester. Seeing a team like that reminded us of how hard we need to work for the rest of the semester.”
Even still, Walbright said she could see positives from the Wednesday match.
“Especially playing at no. 1 singles, Cimpeanu played outstanding that day. Just flawless,” she said. “Katie and Halle had great matches, too, but they just weren’t able to finish which was unfortunate.”
The experience of the week helped prepare the Chargers for tough situations that are crucial points in a match, Walbright said.
“Most of the mental training that you do comes when you actually play other schools and it’s me talking to them on the court,” she said.
The trip didn’t dampen Walbright’s outlook on the conference season that begins this week with Davis & Elkins.
“I feel like we’re at a really good spot. Although we had losses on spring break, we had a really strong February,” she said. “We’ve got more confidence going into conference play this season. Just knowing our team and what we can accomplish, and that we’re super deep makes us feel really strong heading into conference.”