Seniors fall in final match on Mesa
April 19, 2017
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On April 13, the San Diego State women’s tennis team prepared to take on Fresno State in its third conference match of the season, but for the seniors on the team, they were playing for something special.
For seniors Kennedy Davis, Olivia Larsson and Taylor Lederman, it would be their final home match of their collegiate careers, their final home match wearing the Scarlet and Black and their final home match at the Aztec Tennis Center under head coach Peter Mattera.
Before the match, each senior was honored in a pre-game ceremony where each player was introduced and handed flowers by their loved ones in attendance.
There was a great turnout of SDSU fans, as students, coaches and players from other sports on the Mesa showed their support.
Davis made her way to SDSU from San Jose, California, and over the course of her four years, she’s shown her competitive nature.
She started her senior game on a positive note after winning her doubles match with freshman Mia Smith 6-3 over Fresno State freshman Juliane Triebe and senior Galina Bykova.
“She’s obviously very talented,” Mattera said. “She’s such a fun individual to have as part of your team. She fights. She’s a great teammate. Kennedy is very unique and I’m really going to miss her.”
Davis’ singles match showed the same fight that she has had in her this whole season.
She competed against Fresno State sophomore Emma Wilson and won the first set 7-6 in a hard fought battle that would continue the remainder of the match.
Wilson took the second set 6-3 and despite Davis’ resilience, Wilson went on to win the match after winning the final set 6-4.
Although Davis’ final singles match at SDSU didn’t come wrapped in a win, it was her thoughts on leaving her head coach that made her fight back tears.
“He’s the best coach,” Davis said. “I couldn’t ask for a better coach and being around the team and this location is beautiful, so I’ll definitely miss that. Thanks (Mattera) for giving me a good four years here.”
Larsson and Lederman competed together in doubles and lost to Fresno State freshman Katerina Stloukalova and sophomore Olivia Noble 6-3.
Larsson, however, went on to win her singles match 7-6, 7-5 against Noble. She was the only Aztec to win a singles match in SDSU’s 6-1 loss to Fresno State.
“After that win it feels amazing,” Larsson said. “I’m sorry that we didn’t get the team win, but it felt good for me to end with this win since I’ve been having so many close matches this season.”
Larsson says that if she returns home to Sweden, she’s going to cherish the San Diego weather that she got to practice and play in it every day, but she’s also going to cherish her teammates.
“Being a part of a team that comes from different places, we get to know so many different people and learn about different cultures,” Larsson said. “All of those things are things that you can take with you in life, and I’m always going to remember that.”
Mattera said it was nice for Larsson to get a win because she deserves it.
“She’s just a wonderful teammate,” Mattera said. “She’s the first one to see if anybody needs help. She’s always there to lend a hand and that’s something really valuable when you’re trying to form a team out of people that are playing an individual sport.”
The final senior on this year’s team came as a transfer student from the University of Kentucky and has had her strength tested throughout her collegiate career.
After having a bad coaching experience in Kentucky and missing most of this year’s season due to injury, Lederman said she cherished her time on the Mesa.
“We have such a good team bond and our coaches are involved in that too,” she said. “No matter if we lose it’s always a positive outlook on everything, and I think that’s something that I’ll take away and try to implement later in my life down the road.”
Lederman lost her singles match to Bykova after winning the first set 7-5 but losing the last two sets 6-0, 6-2.
In only her second match back from injury, Mattera said it was nice to have her back.
“It’s hard because she hasn’t had to concentrate on the court for that long, so every day she’s getting a little bit better and having a really good step forward,” Mattera said. “She’s been a great fighter for us too, and it’s really unfortunate that she hasn’t gotten a complete spring season, but I’m really hoping, and I think Taylor shares my hope, that maybe we’re going to be doing something really memorable and exciting at the end.”
Lederman praised her coach for his ability to keep her spirits lifted high through both hardships and successes.
“Coming from Kentucky was a bad experience coaching wise, and (Mattera) is super positive and always a good coach and a good role model, so thank you for that,” Lederman said.
The San Diego State women’s tennis team (5-16) will finish the regular season by traveling to the Bay Area to take on San Jose State on Saturday, April 22.