Big win sets up shot at A-Sun run
Published: Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 16, 2012 15:04
The FGCU women’s tennis team has thrived without head coach Jennifer Gabou, with a winning record in the Atlantic Sun after an upset victory of Stetson.
On April 7, after falling behind 3-0 in the match, FGCU (7-10, 4-3 A-Sun) stormed back with four straight singles wins to beat Stetson on Senior Day.
It marked the first time FGCU has defeated Stetson and improved its home conference record to 4-1.
When he took over for Gabou, who has taken a maternity leave, assistant coach Joey Barnes knew what he was getting himself into.
“We had already planned for a while that I was going to be coaching the team,” Barnes said. “I’ve worked with coach Gabou for a long time and we both have the same philosophy so this worked out great.”
Barnes has seen great improvement while filling in for Gabou.
“They’ve all come together and I’m following coach Gabou’s development plan,” Barnes said. “I need to get the girls physically ready and make sure that they are doing the right thing at the right time. Just by their effort alone they’ve improved.”
Barnes notes that the win against Stetson is a step in the right direction.
“This was a great win,” Barnes said. “We came in and did what we had to do. It could’ve went either way but we came down and put our hearts on the line.”
With two A-Sun matches left (at Lipscomb April 13, at Belmont April 14) before FGCU’s first conference tournament the following weekend, Barnes feel good about the future.
“I think that we are in a good position, but we can be better,” Barnes said. “I think that we’re working hard to be better. This was one (Stetson) that helps us improve and it makes going to the championship better.”
FGCU has leaned on its standout freshman Sarah Means.
At No. 1 singles, Means has seven wins in dual matches, including three in conference.
Means beat her counterpart against Stetson 6-2, 6-2.
“It’s been a difficult season, but I am still learning and growing as a player, so it’s been a pretty good year,” Means said. “The win against Stetson was awesome because it was our first win against them so it felt great to be a part of that.”
Barnes has taken Means under his wing and helped with the mental side of the game.
“I worked very hard before I came here, but it’s helpful to have such great coaches,” Means said. “They’ve helped me on the court and in practice and they’ve pushed me to be better. Especially strategy wise and helping me add components to my game.”
Veteran Morgan Bechtel, a junior, notices a new demeanor from her teammates since Barnes stepped in.
“Coach Barnes has had a positive effect,” Bechtel said. “He’s motivated everyone and everyone seems more relaxed.”
At No. 3 singles, Bechtel holds a 9-8 (5-2 A-Sun) dual match record.
She looks forward to her first A-Sun tournament but won’t take the last two regular season matches for granted.
“They’re both conference matches so we have to win both of these to get a good ranking for the conference tournament,” Bechtel said.