Oct. 22, 2001
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|Arizona sophomore Debbie Larocque leads with squad with four singles victories in the fall season.|
The Tourney Field: This year's tournament field consists of 16 teams: Arizona, ASU, UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach State, Cal State Northridge, Loyola Marymount, UNLV, Pepperdine, USC, San Diego, San Diego State, UC Riverside, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and UC Irvine.
Fifteen of the top 100 singles players in the country inluding No. 3-ranked Adria Engel of Arizona State and No. 5-ranked Sara Walker from UCLA will be competing. In addition, the tournament boasts eight of the top-50 doubles teams in the nation.
Last year, former Wildcats Michelle Gough and Lindsay Blau fell a match short of repeating as doubles tournament champions. The duo reeled off four wins before falling to Pepperdine's Paola Palencia and Ipek Senoglu, 8-4, in the finals. Gough was equally impressive on the singles side recording five victories before dropping a straight sets decision to third-seeded Jewel Peterson, 6-4, 6-3, in the championship match.
Cats in the Polls: Sophomore Debbie Larocque and senior Laresa Marino earned spots in the ITA preseason rankings released Sept. 13. Larocque is No. 85 in the singles poll after posting a 23-16 record last season. Larocque and Marino moved up 38 places from last year's final doubles ranking of 41 to 13 in the preseason vote. The duo wrapped up the 2000-01 campaign with a 12-14 mark as the No. 2 doubles team for the Wildcats. Larocque and Marino are the projected No. 1 pair for the upcoming season.
ITA All-American Tournament (Oct. 6-14): Arizona sophomore Debbie Larocque notched an opening round qualifying draw victory over Kansas State's Petra Sedlmajerova, 6-3, 6-1, before falling in the second round to North Carolina's Julie Rotundi, 6-2, 6-2. UA sophomores Maja Mlakar and Perine Pernin were defeated in their prequalifying singles first round contests. Mlakar lost to Alice Pirsu of Pennsylvania, 6-4, 6-3, and Nevada's Biljana Trpeska outlasted Pernin, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1. On the doubles side, the No. 13-ranked pair of Larocque and senior Laresa Marino were upset by Texas' Lindsay Blau and Vladka Ulhirova, 8-5 in the first round of the qualifying bracket. Mlakar and Pernin topped Purdue's Gretched Haynor and Melissa Iqbal in the opening round of the prequalifying bracket, 8-1. The duo wasn't able to move past the second round, losing to South Alabama's Josien Boverhof and Dominika Nemcovicova, 8-1.
William and Mary Invitational (Sept. 21-23): Arizona sophomores Debbie Larocque and Perrine Pernin recorded three doubles victories to capture the flight B doubles title. On the singles side, No. 85-ranked Larocque earned a spot in her bracket's finals. Her run included an opening round victory over No. 43-ranked Maren Haus of Wake Forest, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2. UA freshman Marie-Pier Pouliot also reeled off three wins to reach her bracket's finals. Pouliot came up a bit short in the championship contest falling to Richmond's Jeannette Cluskey in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1. Wildcat freshman Maja Mlakar rebounded from an opening round loss to win her bracket's consolation draw. Overall, the squad compiled a 13-8 singles record and 5-2 doubles mark.
Interim Head Coach: After serving as an assistant last year at Arizona, Simon Thibodeau assumes the role of interim head coach. A native of Montreal, Canada, Thibodeau graduated from Sherbrooke University in 1997, with a degree in specialized sports science. While at Sherbrooke, Thibodeau fostered his passion for the game by working as a coach for Canadian junior tennis.After he graduated, he began working as a National Coach for Tennis Canada. Thibodeau's duties with the federation includes supervising national training camps and coaching members of the National Junior Team. His position has involved extensive travel around the world that has given him extensive knowledge of the international junior circuit. Thibodeau's coaching experience spans to the professional ranks where he periodically trains Canadian touring professionals.
In addition to his coaching experience, Thibodeau's expertise in health science has proven to be an added dimension for the Arizona program.
Last Season: The Wildcats look to rebound from last season's 6-14 record that ended their 13 year run in the NCAA Tournament. Freshman Debbie Larocque led the squad in singles victories with 23. On the doubles side, Michelle Gough and Sophie Regnier won 14 matches earning a spot in the NCAA tournament. The duo advanced to the round of 16.