Sept. 22, 2010
NEW ORLEANS - Tulane University women's tennis standout Mariam Kurdadze is just three matches into the 2010-11 season, but the junior from Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia, picked up a major honors as she was named the No. 107th ranked singles player in the nation in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's Division I National Preseason Rankings.
Kurdadze becomes the first Green Wave player to claim a preseason ranking since the program was reinstate prior to the 2008-09 season. In two seasons at Tulane, she has been twice named first-team All-Conference USA and All-Louisiana while compiling records of 45-14 and 32-19 in singles and doubles play, respectively.
"Mariam is a great competitor," Tulane head women's coach Terri Sisk said. "She truly is the heartbeat of this team. In the fall of 2008 when we brought the girls back, we talked a lot about what this team used to be, what the team is now and what it's going to be. They realized they had really some big shoes to fill as the 2005 team coming in at No. 9 in the country. We've talked so much about baby steps and doing things the right way, and I think this is just one more piece of the puzzle.
"Mariam coming in at No. 107 preseason is a huge step for us and for her because it puts Tulane back on that national map. It sort of says, `Hey, you know what? We are coming back one piece at a time.' We're thrilled for her. She deserves it. The whole team deserves it. They're working hard. They have one common goal and that's to be a nationally-ranked program and to resurge as a nationally Top 20 team."
Kurdadze's career began with a bang as she posted a 19-5 singles record and a 14-8 doubles mark en route to earning Louisiana Freshman of the Year honors in 2009. That season, she went 10-3 at No. 1 singles while going 9-2 at the No. 2 position. After sitting out Fall 2008 season with an injury, Kurdadze opened her collegiate career with five straight singles wins, had a nine-match winning streak from Feb. 13-March 17, 2009, and closed out the year by winning all four contests that were played to completion.
Of her 26 wins, 20 came in straight sets, and she was selected to play in the prestigious Riviera/ITA Women's All-American Championship. Kurdadze had a six-match winning streak from March 6-20, 2010, a five-match streak from March 22-April 22, 2010, and four match winning streaks from Sept. 19-26 - which included a 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 win over nationally-ranked Aleks Malvarchikova of SMU at the Rice Invitational on Sept. 26 - and again from Jan. 22-Feb. 10, 2010.
Kurdadze and the Green Wave return to action on Friday, Sept. 24, when they begin play in the three-day Roberta Alison Fall Classic in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The Alison Classic is the second of five team tournaments Tulane is slated to participate in during the fall season as the Wave will also play in the Rice Classic from Oct. 8-10 in Houston, the ITA Regional Championship from Oct. 22-24 in Birmingham, Ala., and the Lakewood Ranch Clay Court Classic on Nov. 12-14 in Tampa, Fla.