The Virginia women’s tennis team opens ACC play this week when it visits Maryland on Friday before returning home to host Boston College on Sunday. VirginiaSports.com caught up with freshman Lindsey Hardenbergh to review the Cavaliers’ 6-2 start of the season and to preview the upcoming ACC matches. Question: You are now eight matches into the dual match season. How much of an adjustment has it been for you as a freshman to start playing dual matches after playing individual events in the fall?
Hardenbergh: The dual match season is so incredible, just because of the team atmosphere. It might sound clich, but you are playing for more than yourself. When you are out on the courts, it is easier to find something to push you when you see your teammates out there next to you. There is nothing better than being out there and having your teammates cheering for you and pushing you to be better.
Question: Does the excitement of the dual match season get taken to another level this week as ACC play begins?
Hardenbergh: For sure. We are a young team and we are still learning about playing at this level. It was a great experience to have the matches with the men’s team last weekend. We were able to see some of the differences between the teams. Obviously they are No. 1, but we noticed the excitement that they play with every match. Our team is getting there. We need to have that positive energy and passion out on the courts and we will continue to improve on that as ACC play begins. Question: You have played in the top half of the singles lineup this season. Did you expect to come in and make such an immediate impact during your freshman season?
Hardenbergh: I knew I wanted to be a leader, whether I was No. 8 or No. 1 in the lineup. It has definitely been a great blessing. I didn’t expect this to be happening. I have used it to motivate me and to continue to work hard. As my mom says, it isn’t about trying to get to a position, its just about playing the best you can. I think in tennis, you can get focused on the numbers, your record, where you are in the lineup, but you have to forget those things. When you think about those things, you don’t play as well. Question: You had some impressive results in the fall, especially when you won a USTA Futures event in St. Louis? How did winning that tournament, against pro players that included several former collegiate All-Americans, help your confidence for this season?
Hardenbergh: It gave me a lot of confidence. I never had that type of success before. In the juniors, I was decent, but I never had the type of national success that players like Emily (Fraser) and Claire (Bartlett) had. Winning that tournament really showed me what I was capable of when I put my game together. I could see the improvements in my game that Coach Mark (Guilbeau) and Coach Troy (Porco) had been working with me on. It showed me that when you do a few things well and you have confidence is yourself, how the success will follow. Question: Of the eight players on the roster, five are newcomers, including four freshmen. How have you and the other newcomers adjusted to not only playing college tennis, but playing together as a team?
Hardenbergh: The older girls have shown us how the team dynamic works. For a lot of us, junior tennis was very individual minded. When you come here and spend so much time together, you just come together as a team. You develop a respect for each other and the work we are all putting into the team. With all of us newcomers, it has been a great experience. Everyone has contributed to having us bond together.
Question: This weekend you open ACC play at Maryland on Friday before hosting Boston College on Sunday. What are you looking forward to about those matches?
Hardenbergh: I remember the first college match I ever went to was at Maryland. After seeing that match, I used it as inspiration to set some goals for myself. It is going to be incredible to play my first ACC match up there. Obviously, being from Northern Virginia, I will have a lot of friends and family coming to watch us play. It’s also a place I am used to playing at, having played so many junior tournaments in College Park. I am looking forward to it. Then to come home and play our first home ACC match is exciting. Overall, it is two great opportunities for our team to show what we are capable of.