Mount returns

Jessie Mount will be a key part of the Coastal Carolina women's tennis team this spring.

For the second straight season, the Coastal Carolina women’s tennis team locked in the third seed for the Sun Belt Conference tournament. 
And for the second straight season, the Chanticleers failed to advance to the next round.
That 2018-2019 performance is something that doesn’t sit well with junior Somer Dalla-Bona.
“I don’t know what it is about the conference tournament. We beat the teams we need to beat in the regular season and then come tournament time, I don’t know what happens,” she said. “This year will be different though.” 
Last year, Dalla-Bona put on a show each time she stepped onto the court, going 14-3 as the team’s No. 3. She went an unprecedented 10-0 in Sun Belt singles matches, being only one of four conference players to go unbeaten in league play.
Her performance on the court was enough to be honored with Sun Belt Player of the Week twice, and she was named All-Sun Belt First Team Singles. She's this year’s Sun Belt Player to Watch.
“It’s nice to have those kinds of awards, but I don’t think they define who you are as a player,” Dalla-Bona said. “You have your good days and your bad days. I had a lot of great matches last season, but last year doesn’t define what I can do for this upcoming season.”
Head coach Catherine Hewitt, who is entering her ninth season as head coach of the Chanticleers, said her team is looking forward to the challenges that the 2020 season will present.
“Here at Coastal we recruit on character, so the experienced players who return with us help the new girls coming in with adjusting. We have two incredible Italian freshmen this year, Flaminia Scará and Valentina Urelli. They are fiery and full of talent,” Hewitt said. “We lost two great players last year. Viktorija Demcenkova graduates and Jennifer Brown, who was a grad student that transferred here, used her final year of eligibility to play here. Both were incredible for us.”
Jennifer Brown, who transferred from Mississippi State and played one season at CCU, will return to the team as a manager while she continues her education at Coastal. 
Her doubles partner for a majority of last season, Jessie Mount, is looking forward to having her back on the court.
“It’s awesome to have her back," Mount said. "She’s a really good friend of mine. She came from an SEC school and she has played at such a high level of college tennis for a long time. Any advice she gives is like pure gold to me.”
Both Mount and Brown were named to the All-Sun Belt First Team Doubles last season, with Brown being named the 2019 Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year.
“She gets to travel with us and encourage from the sidelines,” Hewitt said. “It’s really great to have her voice there to help this team throughout the season. I’m excited to have her on board.”
With a core group of returning players and a former player returning to assist the team, the Chanticleers have a lot of promise beginning the 2020 season. 
Coastal's first two matches of the 2020 season are on the road (they fell to Charlotte 5-2 in their opener) and team certainly will be looking to playing their first home match on Feb. 15. The Chanticleers have been dominant at the Delan and Lynn Stevens Tennis Complex since it opened in 2015. The team has gone 38-10 at home since it opened.
“Our court is classified as slow,” Hewitt said. “When you have a slow court, its a longer point. It’s harder to find that finishing shot or put away shot. You have to have to be strong both physically and mentally going into the match.”
While Coastal hasn’t had a losing record at home in over 20 years, the team did struggle last season, going 9-6 at the Stevens Tennis Complex.
Despite the disappointing ends the past two seasons, the athletes insist they will not let the past define them and move forward in the hopes of bring back some Sun Belt hardware.
“I have to do a better job in preparing the team for the tournament,” Hewitt said. “I know we have what it takes to win a Sun Belt Championship.” 
“We definitely need to focus on advancing to the next round,” Mount said. “I feel that if we put ourselves and train ourselves in high pressure situations throughout the season, those moments will help prepare us for the conference tournament.”
The Chants will have their home opener Feb. 15 versus Charleston Southern with first serve happening at 11 a.m.

Contact Charles D. Perry at 843-488-7236


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