The Northern Kentucky University Women’s Tennis team is set to begin their spring season with a trip to Dayton, Ohio Feb. 11. The Norse will enter the match with a No. 33-national ranking and ‘- according to junior Stephanie Issaacs ‘- a reputation to match. ‘People know that we’re a tough team and that we will put up a hard fight,’ she said. Head Coach Geoff Crawford referred to wins his team has posted over Division-I universities as an example to attest to his teams toughness. ‘There are some Division I schools who won’t play us because we’ve beaten them before,’ he said. During the fall, Crawford brought in a fitness specialist from Thomas More College, an experience he believes the team will benefit from as it can help them stay smart on the court. Crawford says the team is their own worst critics, but stated that he also tries to reassure them that hitting the ball with perfect technique every time is not the only part of the equation for winning matches. It’s also about strategy and mental toughness. ‘You’re not always going to play good tennis, but you can always play smart tennis,’ Crawford said. Reputation and training aside, though, the Norse team will have a complete absence of seniors and thus a reliance on younger players for solid production. A reliance which may be weighing heavy on the minds of some freshman tennis players. ‘I hope I can meet (Head Coach Geoff Crawfords) expectations and do the best I can to win every match,’ freshman Jillian Sturgeon said. Sturgeon also hopes that she can learn from the upperclassmen, how to balance school and tennis, something that NKU student athletes have been able to do well. Overall, the entire NKU athletics program has a G.P.A. above 3.0. Moreover, six of seven NKU women’s tennis players were named to NKU’s All-Academic team during the Norse men’s basketball game on Feb. 5.