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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    W-tennis to test freshmen infusion

    As the spring season for the Arizona women’s tennis team kicks off, coaches and players alike appear enthusiastic to shake the doldrums of last year’s injury-plagued season. Bolstered by a strong fall performance – each individual player finished with a winning record – as well as coming off a team-building retreat to Tucson’s White Stallion Ranch, the squad is eager to face a formidable Pacific 10 Conference and explore a positive team dynamic.

    “”They’re competitive. As a group, they really like to compete and want to be successful,”” said head coach Vicky Maes before the start of Tuesday’s practice. “”Instead of having a bunch of individuals, we have a bunch of kids who buy into the idea of a team.””

    Entering her ninth season at the team’s helm, Maes is intent on focusing her players away from last year’s losing season, saying, “”we know we can only do better.””

    The Wildcats will start their 2009 campaign at home this morning at 10 against UC-Davis.

    “”It’s supposed to be a nice, comfortable first match and everyone’s really excited,”” said senior Danielle Steinberg.

    In spite of the optimism, the team acknowledges that the road ahead will be rocky.

    “”The Pac-10 is tough,”” said assistant coach Ryan Stotland, who himself is coming off a pro tour and is in his first year on the Arizona coaching staff. “”Everyone is a title contender. … Last year UCLA won the championship and Cal finished second. Stanford has been competitive. It’s the strongest conference in women’s tennis.””

    Maes emphasized that the true test of the Wildcats will come after they have a few Pac-10 games under their belt, stressing that “”keeping positive and fighting”” will be a challenge they will face at that juncture.

    A point in Arizona’s favor is the infusion of energy provided by its three freshmen players: Debora Castany, Sarah Landsman and Natasha Marsh.

    “”They are great, all positive energy,”” Steinberg said, noting the maturity level of the freshmen by adding, “”there’s not a lot of complaining from them, which is rare.””

    Maes was equally enthusiastic about the freshmen trio, predicting that Marsh – who had to sit out last semester due to injury – will be a force to be reckoned with this season.

    “”She’s a fierce competitor. Lots of energy, loves the game,”” Maes said. “”She loves to compete and has the game to back it up.””

    Maes also mentioned Landsman’s potential to be a key player, citing the Syosset, N.Y., native beat ranked players during the fall season.

    First and foremost, the team is intent on maintaining a strong, positive mentality toward the game.

    Chiding herself for being “”corny,”” junior Claire Rietsch said one of her goals this season was to have fun.

    But before any of the Wildcats can achieve their goals, they have to take on the Aggies and a daunting Pac-10 season. Whether it’s UC-Davis or a familiar conference foe, Maes has the same advice for her players.

    “”(To) be tough mentally, stand by their games – no matter the situation,”” she said. “”They have just as much right to be on that court as the person across the net.””

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