Xavier Women's Tennis: The Revenge Tour
Xavier Women's Tennis Team (Big East Champs, 17-3) are headed to Chicago on Friday to take on Northwestern (18-5) in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament. The Lady Musketeers are in the midst of a historic season as the program continues to reach new heights in the Big East. Coming off the program's second Big East title (2016), having secured the 2nd NCAA Tournament bid in school history, riding an eight-match win streak and having the program's first ever NCAA Singles Championship qualifier (Ahmeir Kyle)...the time is right to check back in with one of the deepest teams in the country.
Coach Doug Matthews built this team to last as they embarked on their "Revenge Tour" this season. "I feel really good about where we are. We were really aggressive in making this the deepest team possible (this past off-season), knowing we needed options with the obstacles COVID brings." And the plan came to fruition as the Musketeers took full advantage of their depth down the stretch. "We were able to evolve as the season progressed. Our top 4 carried us in the beginning, but 5-9 really stepped up as Ahmeir (missed QFs & SFs of BE Tournament) and Kat (Lyman) were forced to sit some matches." Coach Matthews also spoke about the win against crosstown rival Cincinnati being a turning point for the team. "It's always good to beat UC on the road. That match proved we could rally around one another and play well in big moments." That confidence ultimately helped achieve their goal of winning the Big East title that escaped them two seasons ago.
Freshman phenom Imani Graham (16-4 singles, 13-2 doubles) has risen to the occasion all season long. "I did not realize that! That is pretty exciting. I've had so much fun here my first year," Graham said after being reminded she had not lost a singles match since March. "I've never had anything like this (winning the conference title) happen to me. How did the former 5-star Florida native end up in Norwood? "The family atmosphere at Xavier, the academic aspect and the opportunity to win conference championships. Not many know this, but I literally committed on my unofficial visit."
Imani Graham at practice before the team left for Chicago
Redshirt freshman and West Virginia transfer Kat Lyman (13-3 singles, 9-5 doubles) has had instant success at her new home coming off a massive conference clinching win vs DePaul. It was sweet revenge for the Musketeers who had fallen to the Blue Demons two seasons ago and a moment Lyman won't ever forget. "It was an opportunity I never imagined. You see highlights of other players doing it and I was just really grateful to be in that position and have the confidence to pull through." The epic battle included a 63 ball rally on set point that should've been featured on SportsCenter and made Strength & Fitness Coach Matt Jennings very proud.
Redshirt freshman and 2021 Big East Tournament Most Outstanding Player Anna Roggenburk (15-3 singles, 12-4 doubles) has taken her game to another level this year. Having won her last eight matches in singles and last six in doubles, the former 5-star recruit credits the success to a stronger sense of belief and the family feel that drew her to the program. The Avon Lake, Ohio native plays close enough to home to have her family in attendance. "It was awesome to have my parents there for it. They were so proud of us. And my mom is like my biggest fan...it was really fun."
Good luck to the Musketeers! It's been a pleasure to watch this team's progression.