Spring Season Starts on Sunday
Jan. 9, 2009
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - The #30 Indiana University women's tennis team begins the spring season with a home doubleheader on Sunday, facing a pair of MAC foes in #53 Western Michigan and Miami (OH). The first match will begin at 10 a.m. while the second contest is set to begin at 3 p.m. Due to technical difficulties, live match updates may be unavailable for this weekend's action.
The Hoosiers enter the spring season with a familiar look as eight of nine letterwinners from a year ago return for the Cream and Crimson. Indiana is coming off a trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and a 21-8 overall record, including an 8-2 finish in the Big Ten. ¬ "Staying healthy and playing good doubles will be two major keys to our success this year," said Head Coach Lin Loring. "When two top-30 teams play a dual match, they frequently split the singles. The doubles' point often decides the match."
Indiana competed in four events during the fall schedule. The Hoosiers traveled to Georgia and Vanderbilt for a pair of invitationals while hosting two home tournaments as well in the Hoosier Classic and Indiana Invitational.
The spring schedule begins with six consecutive home dual matches from Jan. 18 through Feb. 1. Indiana's first road trip of the spring sends them to Durham, N.C. on Feb. 6-7 for duals versus Duke and Princeton. IU also travels to Tennessee (Feb. 20) and Kentucky (Feb. 22), sandwiched by home contests against DePaul and Wake Forest on Feb. 14 and Feb. 28.
The Big Ten season starts with an away match at Illinois on March 7. In addition to completing the rest of the conference slate over the next month and a half, Indiana will also play in the Las Vegas Invitational (March 16-18) and take on in-state rival Notre Dame on March 26. The Big Ten season comes to a crescendo from Apr. 23-26 at the Big Ten Championship, hosted by Wisconsin. The NCAA Tournament is scheduled to begin on May 8 and run through May 25 with the championship match being held in College Station, Texas.
"We have our normal, very competitive schedule," said Loring. "By the end of the year, we will have competed against 13 teams that qualified for the NCAA Championship last year. Nine of those teams advanced to at least the second round."
One of the Hoosiers biggest challenges in '08-'09 will be replacing their only senior from last year, Brianna Williams. Williams, a former team captain, racked up 84 singles and 105 doubles victories in her career.
"One reason for our consistent success over the years has been great senior leadership," said Loring. "Last year was no exception. We had great leadership from Brianna Williams, our only 2008 graduate. With the young team we had last year, that leadership was a major reason for our success."
Leading the Hoosiers into the 2008-09 campaign are senior captains Alba Berdala and Sigrid Fischer. Berdala is a two-time All-Big Ten selection and has played No. 1 singles for most of the past two seasons. She has shown the ability to defeat some of the nation's elite, owning five wins over nationally-ranked opponents in her career.
Fischer tallied 51 overall wins a year ago, 21 singles victories and 30 in doubles play. She started nearly every dual match during her first three years; and her senior season is expected to be no different.
Both Berdala and Fischer can also lead their teammates off the court and in the classroom as both have been named Academic All-Big Ten.
Fellow upperclassmen Stephanie Heller, a senior, and Lindsey Stuckey, a junior, will also be looked upon to contribute heavily this season. Heller's consistent style of play has resulted in a 31-8 career singles mark. She has earned several starts in her first three seasons and is expected to compete for time in the starting line-up once again in 2009.
Stuckey has been a starter in Bloomington since day one, immediately jumping into the starting line-up as a freshman and leading the team with 27 singles wins. Last year, she added 22 more singles victories, playing as high as No. 2 in the line-up.
A quartet of sophomores are back for Indiana after playing extensively as freshmen. In their first season, Charlotte Martin and Katya Zapadalova each earned slots in the singles line-up, playing No. 3 and No. 2, respectively. Martin's biggest win of the year came against Northwestern's #25 Sam Murray, defeating her in a third-set tiebreaker.
Zapadalova not only started in singles, but also played No. 1 doubles. Paired with current student assistant, Brianna Williams, she toppled two nationally-ranked doubles duos in 2008.
Myriam Sopel is an '08 doubles starter that looks to fight her way into the singles line-up in '09. Sopel won 21 of her first 23 doubles contests to begin the spring season a year ago. She later won the first four of her singles starts by the score of 6-0, 6-0.
Guerreiro began her collegiate career by winning both her singles and doubles flight titles at the Deacon Classic. In her first career start, she teamed with Heller to blank their opposition, 8-0, playing No. 3 doubles.
"We had three freshmen start every Big Ten match and the NCAA Championships last year," said Loring. "They did a great job adjusting to college both academically and athletically. The really good news is that they are all now sophomores. That year of experience should be invaluable."
Speaking of freshmen, this year's freshman class is a one-woman show as Megan Matter has joined the team for the spring semester. Matter hails from Leawood, Kan., where she led Blue Valley North High to a 6A state champinships.
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