The 2009-2010 BYU Women's Tennis Team (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
For the second consecutive year, the BYU women’s tennis team had a disheartening quarterfinal exit at the Mountain West Conference Championships in 2008-2009. But the squad is determined to turn things around this season with more experience and some big changes.
Seniors Kristina Doerr and Chie Hayaska will lead a team with seven returning letterwinners and three new freshmen. Off the court, coach Joey Johnson will be at the helm for the Cougars. Johnson replaces Craig Manning, who coached the team to four conference championships in his 10-year tenure.
“I have been impressed with many aspects of how BYU athletics supports its coaches, teams and players,” Johnson said. “As far as the team goes, we are learning together each day how to prepare to play our best tennis.”
Over the course of the season, BYU tallied a 12-10 record against top national programs and finished ranked No. 64 in the country. With no departing seniors and a talented group of players, the Cougars will look to improve that ranking and record this year.
BYU players have already proven this fall season that they are capable of handling tough competition and pulling out great upsets. The Cougars began the season by showing their dominance at the BYU Invitational. An all-BYU final in singles and doubles ensured that Cougars would be crowned in both competitions. Sophomore McCall Jones took the title in singles and partnered with classmate Megan Price to capture the championship in doubles.
“The results from our fall season were up and down but were highlighted by our season opener, the BYU invitational, which went very well,” Johnson said. “Overall, we had the best results of any team in the tournament.”
Jones and Price surprised many with their performance at the invitation-only ITA Riviera All-American Championships. The sophomores notched a stellar 8-4 win over third-seeded Andrea Remynse and Yasmin Schnack of UCLA. Remynse and Schnack came in the No. 5 spot in the country in last year’s final rankings. Jones and Price then dropped a close 9-7 match to Baylor’s No. 9 pair.
In singles, Jones lost her first bout at the All-American but charged through the consolation round, beating two players ranked in the top 50. Despite an impressive run, the Cougar eventually fell in the final.
The BYU Invitational was a sign of things to come for more than just Jones. Doerr led by example with her accomplishments at the ITA Mountain Region Championship. The Cougar captain was the only BYU player to advance beyond the Round of 16. Doerr made it all the way to the semifinals before suffering defeat at the hands of conference foe Kristina Nedeltcheva of UNLV.
Despite good showings during the fall, the women’s team will need to compete even more fiercely in the regular season as it takes on top national programs and contends with ranked conference opponents. BYU will face 10 teams that finished last season ranked in the top 75 including reigning conference tournament champion TCU, San Diego State and regular-season champion UNLV.
“Playing highly-ranked opponents gives us a chance to bring our ranking up to where we want to see it,” Johnson said.
The first chance to catch the Cougars at home will be Feb. 5 and 6 against Wichita State and Colorado. Fans can support the team throughout the season as the women pursue their goals of winning the conference championship and breaking into the ITA’s top 25.