Tigers relieved, motivated by long-coveted win

SSU senior Rachida El Kateb
SSU senior Rachida El Kateb

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - There was a little different mood for the Savannah State women's tennis team during their practice on a chilly Tuesday morning.

"It's 10:00 a.m. It's cold. We've practiced many times at this time, and in this temperature," head coach Carolina Lainez says. "They were not as happy as they were today."

Winning can have that effect, especially if you haven't won in a while. For the Tigers, it had been longer than a while.

"You start thinking, when is it going to come?" says junior Sansrita Ranjan. "When is that day going to be when I can feel success?"

The Tigers snapped their 61-game losing streak Sunday afternoon with a win over Norfolk State. It was the team's first victory since March 7, 2015, ending a drought that lasted 1100 days. It was the first win over a Division I opponent since April 5, 2014.

The team says the win brought some relief, but most of all, validation.

"We knew if we just kept believing in ourselves all this while, it would turn out to be great," Ranjan says. "All the belief, all the practice just paid off."

For almost all on the team, the season has been tough. But the Tigers were only 0-10 on the year before this win.

For senior Rachida El Kateb, this victory has been a long time coming. The only returning player on a team otherwise made up of four freshmen and a transfer, the Angers, France native is the player who has felt the biggest weight of the losing streak.

Now a winner for the first time in her college career, El Kateb says her faith in the program has been justified.

"It's really just about believing," she says. "We really wanted this, and we really believed that we could do it."

Now with that long-coveted victory under their belt, the Tigers plan to add a few more before the season is over. They hope that begins Wednesday when SSU hosts Lafayette College.

"Yes, we're happy. But we want more," El Kateb says. "It's not like we're done. I think it's just the beginning for us."