BYU visits Virginia to kick off 2016 season


PROVO, Utah– BYU women’s tennis will open the 2016 season with two matches this weekend as part of the ITA Kickoff Weekend in Charlottesville, VA.

The Cougars’ first match will be against host No. 7 Virginia, Friday, Jan. 22 at 1:30 p.m. EST following the match between No. 55 Columbia and No. 66 Maryland. Play will continue on Saturday with a consolation match at 10:30 a.m. and a finals match at 1:30 p.m. All matches will be played at the Boar’s Head Sports Club.

“We want to start off strong with our first match against Virginia,” BYU head coach Lauren Jones-Spencer said. “It will be a tough match and we’ve been working to make sure that we’re match-ready so we can go out there and compete. It’s going to be a great opportunity for us.”

The Cougars begin the season looking to build off of a fifth place WCC finish with a 5-5 conference mark and a 10-13 overall record last year. This season the Cougars’ schedule features seven currently ranked opponents including Texas Tech (17), William & Mary (46), Utah (51), Portland (67), Fresno State (54), Pepperdine (19) and Saint Mary’s (45).

“Most of the teams on our schedule are ranked. We’ve got a tough schedule but we have a great team," Jones-Spencer said. "We proved last year that we can compete against the best and now we just have to be a little more consistent. Every match we play will be against somebody important and we’ll have the chance to get back into the rankings.”

Senior Nicolette Poulsen and junior Savannah Ware led the Cougars in fall play after earning a No. 33 ranking in the preseason doubles poll and participating in the Riviera/ITA Doubles Championship in October. Last season, the duo earned All-WCC Honorable Mention in doubles after posting a 12-7 record and Ware earned All-WCC Honorable Mention in singles after posting a team-high 17-4 overall singles record and going 7-2 in WCC play. 

Juniors Toby Miclat and Mayci Jones are also returning for the Cougars. Miclat earned All-WCC Honorable Mention honors after an overall singles record of 15-7 and an 8-1 WCC record. Miclat was also featured on ESPN in the fall while competing in the USTA Collegiate Clay Court Invitational held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, FL.

The Cougars’ lineup will feature several new faces this season including junior college transfer Natella Nabieva and freshman Taylah Beckman of Grafton, Australia. Nabieva, a native of Tashkent, Uzbekistan, finished last season ranked No. 6 in singles by the NJCAA.

“We have a great group this season,” Jones-Spencer said. “We have some good leadership this year as a team and I think we’re a little more mature and the girls are focused.”

Following the ITA Kickoff Weekend, the Cougars will return home to face the University of Denver on Friday, Feb. 6 in the BYU indoor Tennis Courts.