The Virginia women’s tennis team concludes its 2009 regular season schedule this weekend with a pair of matches at the Snyder Tennis Center. The No. 29 Cavaliers (10-8, 3-6 ACC) host Wake Forest Saturday at noon and NC State on Sunday at noon. VirginiaSports.com caught up with senior Amanda Rales to discuss the season and her upcoming senior day on Sunday. Question: The matches this weekend are the final home matches of your career and Sunday is your senior day. What are your thoughts as you head into this weekend?
Rales: I am trying to stay focused on the matches and not think too much about these being my last home matches. I am looking forward to it. For me, the most important thing about this weekend is to get two victories, which we need right now. Question: When you look back at your four years as a Cavalier, what are the memories that stand out to you?
Rales: As a team, there have been a lot. There was my first year when we upset Miami, when they were No. 6 in the country. We also upset TCU and Duke that year. One of my greatest moments was last year when we upset Florida State. As I look back, overall it has been a good run. Question: You came to Virginia as a walk-on and were struggling to get into the singles lineup. Last year you moved up to playing at the No. 1 spot. What went into your growth as a player during your career?
Rales: I think it is a case of showing that hard work and determination can really pay off. Talent helps, but going out and working hard every single day is what helps you take that next step and reach another level.
Question: The team has gone through a tough stretch of matches, playing six consecutive top-25 teams. Although you couldn’t pull out a win in that stretch, several of those matches were close. What did you learn from those matches that will help you over the remainder of the season?
Rales: A couple of them weren’t as close and after those you feel really disappointed. It gets that fire burning and makes you want to work that much harder. Deep down, I think the main lesson is just to get better. We have high standards and we have some expectations, but matches like those showed us where we need to be to compete at that level. From there, it is just the little things. If you can improve on little parts of your game, it is going to add up and that’s what can turn some of those losses into wins. Question: Looking ahead to this weekend when you play Wake Forest and NC State. How important is it for you to pick up a pair of wins and get some positive momentum going into the ACC Tournament the following week?
Rales: Not only is it essential for us to win these matches to get some confidence and some momentum, we need it to happen for our season to be credible. We have played a lot of tough matches this season and early on we pulled a lot of them out. Now we need to show we can do that again. Wake and NC State will be challenging matches, but we need to get the job done.