Clayton State sophomore Hannah Keeling has played in the No. 1 singles spot all season for the Lakers, who take on top-ranked Armstrong Atlantic in the first round of the NCAA Div. II tournament this weekend.
MORROW — Clayton State women’s tennis coach Le’Trone Mason had to constantly juggle his lineup after a rash of injuries.
The Lakers were able to finish a respectable 10-11 overall on the season despite missing his No. 2 singles player a lot during the year.
Clayton State was still able to finish No. 32 in the nation, and earlier this week, the team received a bid to the NCAA Div. II national championships.
It is the 10th time in the program history that the tennis team has received a bid.
“We did a pretty good job since we had to battle injuries all season,” Mason said. “We didn’t have our full team at all our matches.”
The Lakers will compete in the Southeast Regional as the No. 8 seed and will face host and top-seed Armstrong Atlantic Strong. The match will be Sunday at 10 a.m. at Bacon Park in Savannah.
Armstrong is 24-1 entering the tournament and has won four of the last five Div. II championships. Last season, Armstrong went undefeated to win the national title.
Although his team will face a tough opponent in the opening round, Mason is not ready to discount his team yet.
“We get a chance at playing in the NCAA tournament,” Mason said. “Yes, I would have liked for us to have done better in the season to get a better seeding, but it is what it is. On paper, Armstrong is supposed to win, but we are going down their to play the match. It is definitely going to be tough.”
Clayton State is led by sophomore Hannah Keeling at the No. 1 spot. Ivana Krommelova at No. 2 for the Lakers, but missed several matches with injuries.
During the matches that Krommelova missed, Mason moved everyone up in the lineup to fill the void. Martina Dedaj played a lot at the No. 2 spot.
Mason called this a valuable experience for his team to reach the NCAA tournament. He said four players remain from the 2011 squad that reached the Final Four.
“You are always pleased when you can reach the tournament,” Mason said. “We are going to play the hand that was dealt and see how we do. We are still trying to build a program here and this will help in the process.”