BYU Athletic Media Relations
With a team full of talented underclassmen, along with one senior and one junior, the women's tennis team has a bright outlook for this season and for several seasons to come.
"Our team looks pretty good this year," said head coach Craig Manning. "We have a lot of young talent. We have only one senior and one junior, but four sophomores and three freshmen, all with a lot of talent."
The senior leadership this year will fall on the shoulders of Jodi Richardson, from Coach Manning's homeland of Australia. Richardson has been playing the No. 1 spot in both the singles and doubles this fall.
"Jodi has been playing fantastic this fall," said Manning. "She has been healthy for eight months now after overcoming several injuries in her first four years here at BYU. Who knows how good Jodes can do once she is completely healthy? If what we have seen this fall is a sign of things to come this spring, Jodes is on the verge of a breakout season."
Although Richardson is the lone senior, she won't be the only leader on the team. Brooke Ferney, from Caldwell, Idaho, is the only junior on the team and will give added leadership and experience. Ferney is a transfer from the University of Illinois, where she was freshman-of-the-year for the Big Ten Conference.
"Brooke is Jodes doubles partner at the number one position," said Manning. "Brooke looks like she's secured the number two position in singles, as well as number one in doubles. Brooke transferred this summer and is proving to be a great asset to the team both on and off the court. She's a very gifted athlete that is finding her game more and more every time she steps on the court. Brooke finished the fall in top form and looks ready to hit the spring season in full flight."
Other players that had impressive fall tournament seasons were sophomores Dominique Reynolds, of Mexico City, and Liza Khoudoiarova, of Moscow, Russia. Reynolds only lost two matches all fall, one being to a former top-ranked player in the region from last season, and the other being the eventual runner-up of the regional tournament in Omaha. Khoudoiarova won one tournament this fall and also knocked off the No. 1 player from Missouri in the regional tournament.
"With a change in the middle of last season from a one-handed forehand to a double-handed backhand we have seen dramatic improvement in Dominique," said Manning. "Who knows how good she could be? We are looking forward to finding out this spring. Liza is also improving everyday," said Manning. "Who knows how good she could be with the talent she has?"
Lindsy Porter, of Mesa, Arizona, and Lu Oswald, of Salt Lake, are the other sophomores on this year's team. Both have improved their skills tremendously during the off-season.
"Lu is playing great," said Manning. "She has worked extremely hard this summer and the work is paying off. Lu struggled early this fall with some of the changes that she has made in her game but put together some great tennis in the regionals at the end of the fall. She is a fantastic athlete and has a work ethic that could take her all the way to the top. I'm really looking forward to see what Lu can do this spring."
The four freshmen on this year's team are Lindsay Ferrell, from St. George, Elyse Jensen, from Brigham City and Jamie Parker, from Las Vegas, Nevada.
"Lindsay has had a very good start to her college career this fall as a freshman," said Manning. "Getting to the finals of two tournaments before the regionals and then qualifying through two rounds at the regionals. Then, if that was not good enough for Lindsay, she won her first round match comfortably before she lost to the No. 13 seed, 6-4 in the third set.
"Elyse is also tough," said Manning. "After making a significant change to her forehand she still finds a way to win, even though she is not completely sure how to hit it yet. Her forehand is getting better every day, along with her slice backhand, which is one of the best slice backhands in women's tennis. Elyse should be ready to go when the season kicks in."
If the underclassmen can continue to build on the talent they have shown in the fall and follow the leadership of the upperclassmen, this year's BYU women's tennis team has the potential to win another conference championship.
"As you can see we have a very talented team," said Manning. "It's going to be fun seeing what they can do this year."