Despite stumbling toward the latter half of the season, and a disappointing loss to UC Irvine in the Big West tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on April 27 that marked another early exit, the team has much to look forward to. The UCR women’s tennis team finished with its highest win total in five years despite losing their final six games of play. This year, the Highlanders were far better acclimated to the new SRC Tennis Courts than in previous seasons, finishing with a 5-7 home record and more home wins than in the previous four seasons combined. If the team can translate some of that home success onto the road and neutral courts, where they had zero wins on the season, the team will be able to take the next step toward relevance in the conference.
Over a week and a half-long period, starting March 8, the Highlanders displayed some of the untapped potential that they have shown glimpses of throughout the season. The team picked up four wins in five matches, including sound 5-2 victories over South Dakota State University, the University of Villanova and Valparaiso University. Despite taking a loss in the next match to Marquette University, the team showed ability to rebound by picking up a 4-3 win over Southern Utah University.
Following that win streak came conference play, where the struggles of this team were exposed. They ended the season on a tough losing streak that only included one redeemable game: A tough 4-3 loss to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
There is still much to build on in the next couple of years with this season as the base for something better. After struggling to win for several years, the team was able to substantially improve its home record to a respectable mark, and 10 of the 12 members of the 2016-17 team are returning for next season. Despite an overall record that looks poor on paper, there are many positives to take from this season for the women’s tennis team.