Sept. 4, 2003
NEW ORLEANS, La. - - The Tulane women's tennis team will start the 2003-04 season with four different players mentioned in the preseason polls, according to the rankings released by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association on Thursday.
Sophomores Julie Smekodub, Jenny Kuhn and Erika Valdes are listed in the preseason singles rankings, while junior Nancy Kockott joins the trio in the doubles rankings. The three sophomores were all ranked in the final poll of 2003.
"It's nice to have preseason recognition based on past performance, but the rankings that matter are at the end of the season," Tulane head coach David Schumacher said. "There are a lot of tough teams and many are on our schedule this year. We'll use the fall tournaments to get ready and then we'll see."
Smekodub enters the season ranked 23rd by the ITA, while Kuhn, last season's Conference USA Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, is ranked 46th. Valdes will start the season ranked 74th. In the doubles rankings, Smekodub and Valdes team to form the nation's 19th-ranked doubles team, according to the ITA, while Kuhn teams with Kockott to rank 26th.
Tulane is one of only eight women's tennis teams in the nation to have at least two ranked doubles tandems. The Wave also have more singles players ranked than all but six schools. Freshmen are not eligible for the preseason rankings.
Last season, Smekodub ended the season ranked 34th, while Kuhn and Valdes were ranked 72nd and 114th, respectively. In doubles, Kuhn and Smekodub ended the season ranked 10th by the ITA after having won the ITA National Indoor Doubles title. Both Smekodub and Kuhn earned All-America honors in doubles, with Smekodub also picking up the recognition in singles as well.
In addition to her preseason ranking, Valdes will also start the 2003-04 season with a bronze medal won while representing her native Mexico at the World University Games. The sophomore teamed with Lorena Arias to capture the first women's tennis medal for Mexico in the history of the Games. Valdes also competed in the singles portion of the event, reaching the Round of 16.