2002-03 women's tennis season recap
Patrice Shields finally exorcised a personal demon.
The only senior on the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs women's tennis roster, Shields had accomplished nearly everything she could in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, having received All-Conference recognition during all four of her collegiate seasons.
But she hadn't beaten "the Pusher."
A pusher is a derogatory name that tennis players give to a lobber - someone who take all of the pace off the ball, and the excitement out of the match, by lofting return after return deep into the opponents court. Against a pusher, it's difficult to attack and the match becomes a contest of patience rather than shot making. In such a contest, the pusher usually wins.
So it had always been for Shields and the RMAC's most infamous pusher - Colorado Christian's Jeanette Musser.
CU-Colorado Springs, for all intents and purposes, had already been eliminated from the RMAC Tournament. The Mountain Lions had put to together a 4-10 record with a young team that featured three freshmen, three sophomores, one junior and Shields. Their 1-4 conference mark had landed them the sixth seed in the tournament and a matchup with powerful Colorado Christian.
For Shields, that meant one more shot at Musser.
Colorado Christian had already won the match, leading 8-0, but all of the Mountain Lions' attention was still focused on Court No. 8 at Memorial Park. That's where Shields and Musser were still at it long after all of the other matches had finished.
Musser, characteristically, was lobbing. Shields, uncharacteristically, was lobbing back, having opted to give Musser a dose of her own medicine for a change. The strategy worked early as Shields won the first set, 6-4. Her patience ran thin in the second, and she paid for it with a 6-2 loss.
Shields trailed in the tiebreaker, 9-6, and was facing three match points when she finally decided to attack. Her first trip to the net resulted in a winner, as did her second, third and fourth. Musser tied the score at 10 before Shields closed it out. The final point, ironically, was a Musser lob that went wide.
The victory ended Shields' collegiate career with a winning record, 8-7. She teamed with Mary Bollinger for a 6-5 record in doubles as well.
Bollinger capped her sophomore season with a 6-5 singles record and a second-team All-RMAC selection.
Danele Brennenstuhl, the team's only junior, and sophomore Kim Barberi competed at No. 2 doubles and were the team's No. 3 and No. 4 singles players. Freshmen Kim Howard, Jordan Bailey and Annlisa Galenski, plus sophomore Nikki Starbuck rounded out the rest of the roster with Howard and Bailey getting the majority of the playing time.
Though Shields will be missed, the Mountain Lions will return an experienced squad to take on the RMAC next season. Part of that experience is an important example that they can use in the future.
Because Shield showed them how to defeat a pusher.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured