TUCSON, Ariz. ?- Arizona women’s tennis players Dianne Hollands and Maja Mlakar were named the number one doubles team in the nation according to the pre-season Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) rankings. The ITA also ranked Hollands No. 7 in singles play and Mlakar claimed a No.102 ranking.
Seniors Hollands and Mlakar finished the 2003-04 season with a 19-8 record and a season-high No. 5 ranking. The pair reached the semi-finals of the 2004 Pac-10 Doubles Championship, before losing to Stanford’s Lauren Barnikow and Erin Burdette. After earning a trip to the NCAA Tournament, Hollands and Mlakar’s 2003-04 campaign came to an end in the first round following a loss to New Mexico’s Maja Kovacek-Sandy Lukowski.
Fourth-year Head Coach Vicky Maes said of her top-ranked pair, “[Hollands and Mlakar’s ranking] is great news and a testament to how well they played together last year. I hope their ranking motivates them to play well this year. All of last year they were very dependable, so we’re expecting a lot of leadership to come from the two of them.”
Hollands, Arizona’s top singles player last year, will open her first tournament with a pre-season ranking of No. 7. A year ago, Hollands’ pre-season ranking was No. 29, as she finished the year 31-12 ranked No. 13. Her greatest upset came against California’s No. 4 ranked Raquel Kops-Jones. At the time, Hollands was ranked No. 17. Following the season, Hollands, an English major, was named First-team Pac-10 All-Academic.
Coach Maes said of her top player, “Dianne has proven to be a top 10 player. She has never gotten the deserving ranking we think she has earned. Being top 10 in college is very tough to earn, but she is very deserving of No. 7. In Dianne’s case, she has worked so hard already for 3 years, and of all the people in top 10, she’s probably the most deserving.”
Beginning the season at No. 102, Mlakar was unranked at the end of the 2003-04 season, despite being ranked No. 18 in the pre-season poll. That year, she ultimately finished 14-17, with three victories over ranked opponents. In 2002-03, Mlakar had her highest ranking in a pre-season poll at the No. 13 spot. Mlakar’s best season, arguably, came as a freshman (2001-02) when she played in the No. 1 spot for Arizona. Also as a freshman, she tallied a 10-8 record against opponents ranked in the top 90, among her 23 victories.
Coach Maes said of Mlakar’s inconsistency between her ranking and performance, “It’s all up to Maya. She can be an all American in singles and doubles, she’s definitely an elite player if she plays tough. She kind of hung her head and let the circumstances take control of her last year. If she wants to, she will be in the top 20.”
Hollands and Mlakar will open their fall schedule in Waco, Texas at the Baylor Invitational Sept. 17.