CINCINNATI — University of Cincinnati redshirt sophomore Kelli Niehaus can't say enough about how enjoyable this tennis season has been for the Bearcats.
"It's so exciting," said Niehaus, a 2019 Mount Notre Dame High School graduate. "Oh my gosh. It's such a great feeling. We all worked hard for it."
UC (12-3) has earned a program-best 11-match win streak that started in late January. The Bearcats play at Xavier University (7-7) at 2 p.m. Saturday.
"It's really exciting to be a part of such a big, historical moment in UC tennis," said UC freshman Elizabeth Pendergast. "I think we couldn't have done it without everyone that's on the team. Everyone provides such a big part of the whole win streak."
UC coach Eric Toth said the program has enjoyed the success after the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted much of the past few seasons. UC's previous best was a 10-match win streak during the 2017 season.
"I'm just really happy for the girls," Toth said. "They're just really a deserving group. Sure, it's talent. But, I think with us it's grit. We just really focus on getting them in the right frame of mind. Just making sure they are going to be at their competitive best every time they take to the court."
Niehaushas a 22-2 record with singles and doubles competition overall. She worked this past summer on improving her forehand and the results have paid off.
"She's been terrific," Toth said. "It's not easy to make a technical change halfway through your college tennis career. You just don't see that a lot. I'm really proud of Kelli."
Several other players have contributed to the team's success including redshirt senior Emma Miceli (11-3 singles record), redshirt sophomore Sofia Bruno (7-2 singles record) and No. 1 singles player Pendergast, a 2021 St. Ursula graduate.
Pendergast, who a Division I state title her senior season of high school, was ranked nationally by the International Tennis Association (ITA) after the fall season. Pendergast finished the fall with a 9-1 record in singles and 4-1 record in doubles.
"Her attitude is positive," Toth said. "You talk about character - Elizabeth has such high character. I'll never worry about her going out there and putting forth her best effort."
Whether it's the travel during the season or the team dinners, Niehaus and Pendergast said being part of the UC program has been a significant experience in their lives as student-athletes.
"We're very close I would say," said Niehaus. "There is fifth years and there is freshmen. But, we all have a strong bond and we all care about each other and want the best for each other."