Oct. 5, 2001
The Tourney Field: Arizona senior Laresa Marino, sophomores Perrine Pernin and Debbie Larocque and freshman Maja Mlakar will compete at the ITA All-American Championships, Oct. 6-14, in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
This year's event is highlighted by nine of the top 10 players in the country (in order): Bea Bielik of Wake Forest, Lauren Kalvaria of Stanford, Adria Engel of Wake Forest, Nataly Cahana of Old Dominion, Sara Walker of UCLA, Jessica Lehnhoff of Florida, Mariel Verban of Georgia, Amanda Johnson of Duke and Gabriela Lastra of Stanford.
The main draw is preceded by two sets of qualifying tournaments. The 64-player (32 doubles) prequalifying tournament is Oct. 6-7 at UCLA where four players and doubles teams will advance from there to the Oct. 9-10 64-player qualifying tournament at Riviera (where eight players and four doubles teams will advance to the main draw).
Mlakar and Pernin will play out of the prequalifying singles bracket while Larocque will compete out of the qualifying singles draw.
On the doubles side, Mlakar and Pernin earned a spot in the prequalifying round while No. 13-ranked doubles team of Larocque and Marino will begin its title quest out of the qualifying bracket.
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.
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.
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.