BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - The Union women's tennis team makes its return to the court on Saturday after a three-year break as a sponsored sport.
The Bulldogs open the 2014 season at Appalachian Athletic Conference rival SCAD Atlanta (Ga.) with the match set to begin at 1 p.m.
First-year coach Roscoe Moonieyan realizes the team is young and a bit inexperience, yet he believes the squad will be competitive if the ladies apply what they have been learning.
"The team has really grown over the last few months," he said. "They are understanding the fundamentals of tennis and are so open to improving their tennis games and take it to the next level.
"The girls are still figuring out what type of players they are," Moonieyan added," so I am looking forward to seeing them apply what we have been working on both on and off the court."
Before the hiatus, the Bulldogs were a very successful program. Union amassed four AAC regular-season championships, three AAC tournament crowns, two region championships and five berths to the NAIA National Championship Tournament.
However, Moonieyan does not want to the team to have that kind of pressure on it. Rather, he prefer the Bulldogs enjoy this year of tennis and use it as a learning experience.
"I want to see them enjoy their first year of competitive college tennis because many of them are very hard on themselves and have high expectations," he said. "If our girls can go out and keep enjoying the game of tennis and apply what they have learned, no matter what the score is in the match, they will be the real winners in my eyes."
There are seven members who make up the squad with three freshmen, one sophomore, two juniors and one senior. The Bulldog coach said he believes the leadership will stem from junior Glenna Young and sophomore Summer Manning, both of whom have shown great leadership so far.
Manning, who is also a member of the Bulldog volleyball team, will likely be Union's top singles player. Moonieyan said she ranks very high as a tennis player in his eyes.
"Summer is such an athlete and definitely ranks as one of the best female players I have had the chance to work with," the Union coach noted. "The best thing about her is that she is not near to playing to her full potential yet."
In doubles, look for Manning and freshman Richi Shackleford to form the Bulldogs' top duo.
"Both of these girls have very strong groundstrokes, and their styles of play compliment each other as a doubles team."
Moonieyan added the team's strength is the players' love and passion for the game.
"They really do enjoy and respect the sport," he said. "Even though they are hard on themselves from time to time, they always seem to walk away from practices with a smile on their faces and keep coming back for more with the same work ethic."
The Bulldogs will play an 11-game schedule with four home matches. Union's first home match is Monday against AAC foe Columbia (S.C.) at 2 p.m.