This Weekend: No. 31 Arizona opens its dual match season playing host to the UA Invitational, Jan. 21-23. No. 62 Kansas State, No. 27 New Mexico, and No. 29 San Diego round out the field of four at this weekend's tournament. Each team opens its dual match season this weekend and is coming off solid fall campaigns. San Diego boasts two of the top three players in the country, No. 1 Zuzana Lesenarova and No. 3 Katarina Valkyova. The duo also forms the No. 2 doubles team in the nation. For the Torreros it is the second straight appearance at the UA Invitational. Last year, Arizona outlasted San Diego, 5-4. The Kansas State Wildcats are also a repeat member of the tournament. K-State comes in at the 62nd position in the latest ITA polls. Sophomore Alena Jecminkova leads the underclassmen-laiden team with a No. 68 singles ranking. Last year, in the battle of the Wildcats, Arizona got the best of its counterparts, taking the match , 7-2. Coming off an impressive 18-4 season and a No. 27 fall ranking, New Mexico comes into this weekend led by the 44th- best singles player in collegiate tennis, senior Ana Friganovic. Friganovic has earned all-conference honors three straight years and led the Lobos to an NCAA Tournament berth last year.
Name Yr. Hometown Vanessa Abel Sr. Tucson, Arizona Lindsay Blau So. Ossining, New York Joanna Buczkowska Jr. Zakopane, Poland Michelle Gough Jr. Johannesburg, South Africa Laresa Marino So. San Diego, California Brooke Taylor So. Newport Beach, California Uzma Kahn Fr. Hyderabad, India Siri Fomsgaard Fr. Copenhagen, Denmark
Pac-10 Indoors: Two weeks ago at the Pac-10 Indoor Championships, the Wildcats got a preview of how competitive the Pac-10 is going to be. Highlighting singles play for Arizona, freshman Uzma Khan advanced to the semifinals of the Flight II bracket. Junior Michelle Gough dropped her opening round Flight II match but bounced back to win the consolation bracket. Sophomore Brooke Taylor advanced to the finals of the Flight IV singles bracket. In doubles competition, sophomore Lindsay Blau and Gough advanced to the quarterfinals before falling to the eventual winners, Allison Bradshaw and Celena McCoury of Arizona State.
Last Season: Arizona finished the season with an overall record of 8-14 placing them sixth in the Pac-10 Conference. The Wildcats advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before being eliminated by top-ranked Florida.
Cats in the Polls: Arizona begins the dual match season where it left off last year with a No. 31 national ranking. Freshman Uzma Khan received a No. 101 singles ranking for her strong performance in the fall season. The doubles team of junior Michelle Gough and sophomore Lindsay Blau earned a No. 8 doubles ranking after wrapping up the fall season winning the Region VIII doubles championship.
Head Coach: Brad Dancer is in his first year as head coach at Arizona replacing Stephanie London. Dancer played No. 1 singles and doubles at Michigan State, graduating with a degree in business in 1993. In his time at Michigan State, Dancer was a four-time Academic All-Big Ten member and was selected to the All-Big Ten team his senior year. Dancer's professional coaching highlights include serving as an assistant for the 1996 Fed Cup team.
Assistant Coaches: Kevin Epley and Vicky Maes round out the coaching staff for the Wildcats this season. Epley comes to Arizona after serving as an assistant last year at Alabama. In addition to his duties at Arizona, Epley is involved in coaching at the professional tennis level including serving as an assistant for the Fed Cup team under head coach Billie Jean King. Maes, a four-time tennis All-American, returns to her alma mater as a volunteer assistant. Maes graduated from Arizona in 98 but not before becoming the most decorated player in the program's history. Maes was a two-time Pac-10 Player of the Year, a GTE All-American, and was selected to the Pac-10 All-Decade team.
Head Coach Brad Dancer
"We are anxiously awaiting our first dual match of the season. All three schools in the Invitational bring strong credentials to the tournament. Among those coming will be San Diego's Zuzana Leserano and Kataryna Valkyova, two of the best players in collegiate tennis."
"New Mexico will field a strong team that had some great showings in fall tournaments. They arrive in Tucson with a lot of confidence."
"Kansas State presents another stiff challenge to the Wildcats. Coach Steve Biteau has assembled one of the stronger teams in the program's history and they will be dangerous."
"Overall, the coaching staff is looking forward to the beginning of the dual match season. There is an intensity involved that is unmatched. This is going to be a challenging year as our schedule boasts some strong teams, but we are looking forward to the challenge."