Jan. 25, 2000
What is the outlook for this season?
?We finished third in the conference last year, and I think we have a shot to do better than that this year. If things go our way, hopefully we can win our first ever Conference USA championship. We have everyone back that competed in the NCAA Tournament last season. Anna Monhartova is one of the top players in the country and she is capable of beating almost anyone in women?s college tennis. We have two freshmen, both of whom have a chance to make our starting six. Basically everyone on the team is capable of contributing.?
Do you think the schedule is challenging this year?
?We definitely have a very tough schedule this season. Every one of our opponents had a regional or national ranking last season we play seven teams that are already ranked in the top 25. The schedule is tougher than it has ever been. Last year?s schedule was the hardest we?ve ever had, and this one is probably about 10% harder than that one. We?ve got Fresno State, South Alabama, LSU, Kentucky, Miami, Vanderbilt ? all top-ranked teams. This schedule will really show whether or not we can jump into that next level. The only way to improve our ranking is to take on tougher competition. Its kind of a ?Field of Dreams? approach. You build a tough schedule and hope that great players will be attracted to the program, so that they can compete at that level.?
What are the strengths of this year?s team?
?The experience level of this team is definitely a plus. I would say that we are stronger in singles than we are in doubles, but our top doubles team of Anna Monhartova and Maiko Cook beat the No. 16 ranked doubles team in the NCAA Tournament last season, 8-0. But perhaps our best strength is that we don?t really have any weaknesses. We have eight players who are competitive and who are able to play just about anywhere in our line-up.
?We have a lot of depth, which is important in college tennis. The No. 6 match is just as important as the No. 1 match. I think there is competition all up and down the line-up. Anna is clearly the No. 1 player on our team, but other than that, it is hard to say who will play where. The singles line-up is never going to be set in stone. If there is someone who is at No. 7 or No. 8, that doesn?t mean she won?t be able to crack the line-up.?
Last year the team made the NCAA Tournament for just the second time? Are there differences between this year?s team and last year?s team?
?That?s hard to say. We have had some injuries and illnesses that have kept some of the players from competing so far this fall. Hopefully we will get a chance to get everyone some significant playing time when we host our tournament over Halloween weekend. We?ve got several of the top teams in the nation coming into New Orleans for the Green Wave Classic ? LSU, Ole Miss, Illinois, Kansas. It will give us an opportunity to see where we are relative to some of the other top teams in the nation.?