Jan. 29, 2009
NEW ORLEANS - The Tulane University women's tennis team returns to action over the weekend when the Green Wave travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala., for a two-match showdown with host Alabama and Georgia State on Friday and Saturday, respectively, at the University Recreation Center.
Tulane and Alabama will lock horns on Friday at 4 p.m. before taking on the Panthers on Saturday at 2 p.m. The weekend marks two of the Wave's final three matches before opening Conference USA play against SMU on Sunday, Feb. 8, at the Goldring Tennis Center.
"Georgia State and Alabama will be the toughest competition we've had so far this year," Tulane head women's tennis coach Terri Sisk said. "This is the next step for us as a young team. This is just to see what that next level is like. We're going for a lot of reasons - No. 1 to play an SEC team, No. 2 to see how they do it in a premier conference, and No. 3 to see how their energy and their intensity level is.
"That is one of the main reasons that I've decided to play the schedule we are this year; to show the girls that we have a lot to work on and we're going to have to continue to get better. We've got to push ourselves, and more than anything else, we've got to learn to be loud. We have to learn to believe, talk to your teammate and try to make something happen instead of sitting back and waiting for it to happen."
Tulane heads to the Heart of Dixie 4-1 on the year and winners of its last three matches after emerging victorious over UNO, Xavier-New Orleans and Southern last week. Freshman Mariam Kurdadze leads the team with an umblemished 5-0 singles record at the No. 1 spot and sports a 4-1 doubles record with teammate and fellow rookie Lindsay Dvorak.
Dvorak and Marcela Fonseca are both 4-1 on the year in singles play, while Caroline Gerber and Jessica Lange are both 3-1. The combination of Gerber and Lange, meanwhile, has a 3-2 record in No. 2 doubles play.
Georgia State, meanwhile, heads to Tuscaloosa 1-0 for the spring blanking Georgia Southern, 7-0, on Jan. 24. Like the Tide, the Panthers also feature a player ranked in the region as newcomers Martina Ondvackova and Diana Nakic sit No. 24 in the South in doubles in the latest ITA poll.
But no matter who lines up across the net from the Green Wave team this weekend, Sisk has clear goals for her team to accomplish.
"We're going there to have fun and to see what that next level is like," she said. "The only expectations we have on ourselves personally is to continue to get better on the doubles court. That's our main goal for both matches - to feel comfortable in the new positions we worked on this past week and to execute things quickly within the point. If we both of those things well, we'll do well in doubles and that flows over into singles. There have only been a couple of times this year when we've been up 1-0 going into singles. Every other time, we've had to fight from being down, 0-1."
Following the weekend at Alabama, the Green Wave's next home match is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 7, when they play host to Northwestern State at the Goldring Tennis Center with first serve slated for 10 a.m.