Led by three seniors and a junior the BYU women's tennis team helped make head coach Craig Manning's first year a successful one. The Cougars finished the season with an 11-9 record and were ranked 45th in the country before the national tournament started.
Senior All-American Eline Chiew led the Cougars throughout the season from the number one singles position. She was named to the Mountain West Conference first team in both singles and doubles and qualified for the NCAA women's singles tournament in Malibu, Calif., where she lost to Georgia's Esther Knox 6-3, 6-4 in the opening round. Chiew was invited to the tournament by finishing with a 16-15 overall record and being ranked 95th in the country at the end of the season.
Joining Chiew with postseason honors was senior Kim Kelly, junior Jodi Richardson and freshman Lu Oswald. Richardson was named first team all-conference in both singles and doubles. Kelly, Richardson's doubles teammate, joined her on the doubles all-conference team. Oswald, who teamed with Chiew to finish with a 12-5 overall record, was also named to the doubles all-conference team.
The Cougars enjoyed success throughout the season and at one point won five matches in a row. The streak saw the Cougars defeat impressive teams like UNLV, New Mexico, Southern Methodist, Wisconsin and Kansas State. The wins helped the Cougars jump from 51st in the country to 36th in a matter of two weeks. BYU topped the rankings at No. 40 in April.
BYU finished their team season in impressive fashion at the Mountain West Conference championships in Las Vegas, Nev. Entering the tournament as the No. 3 seed, the Cougars defeated No. 6 Colorado State 5-0 before upsetting No. 2 New Mexico 5-4 in their next match to put BYU in the conference championship. The Cougars were defeated in the championship match by host UNLV 5-2. The Rebels made a run of their own, starting the tournament as the fifth-seeded team.
Despite failing to qualify for the NCAA team championship tournament, the young Cougar players gained valuable experience that will help for the years to come. The five BYU freshman were outstanding in singles play, combining for a 48-38 (.558) overall record. Joining Oswald (12-9) with good singles play were Dominique Reynolds (15-10), Liza Khoudoiarova (14-14), Lindsy Porter (3-3) and Jaimie Parker (4-2).
With the strength of the experienced few and the continual improvement in the young many, the BYU women's tennis team finished the millennium strong and should continue to improve as the new millennium continues.