Feb. 1, 2011
TUCSON - In her first full season as head coach, Laura Ianello and the University of Arizona Wildcat women's golf team are riding high after a fifth-place finish at the 2010 NCAA Championships and a win at the 2010 Pac-10 Championships. Looking to improve on the success of last season, Ianello, a former Wildcat herself, highlights some simple yet important goals for the upcoming spring season.
"I think any time you shoot around par or under par, you feel like you're succeeding as a team," Ianello said. "Women's golf has gotten so much better in the last couple years, so when you see your team shoot under par, that's when you feel like you're really making strides, and you're going to win tournaments if your team is shooting under par. We have definitely made team goals, taking home the Pac-10 Championship title again. We want to win Pac-10s and not just make it to nationals, but win at NCAAs. This is a team where we got fifth at nationals last year and there is no doubt in my mind that we can't win nationals this year."
Ianello and her players are well aware of the lengthy and strenuous season that awaits them. The spring portion of the schedule includes eight tournament stretching February to May.
"We need to peak at the right time, right before Pac-10s. If we have some great tournaments to start off the spring and we have some wins early, that's great but my goal is to make sure these girls peak, and have their best performances in April and May, because that's when our biggest goals are, in the postseason."
Ianello and first-year assistant coach Justin Silverstein welcome back seven veterans, including letter winners senior Alejandra Llaneza, junior Isabelle Boineau, junior Margarita Ramos, junior Nikki Koller and sophomore Sherlyn Popelka, from last season's successful team. They also welcome a freshman, Haley Andreas, to the squad.
"These girls look at each other as if they were sisters," Ianello said. "We have two girls from the South, two from Mexico, and one from France in our line up. They really get along wonderfully and they have a lot of fun. I always said that if these girls are not having fun, then they're not going to do well. Girls play good when they feel good. They laugh every day, all day, and I'm glad that they're enjoying their experience."
During the fall 2010 schedule, the Wildcats picked up four top-four finishes, including a win at the Topy Cup and a runner-up finish at the Golfweek Conference Challenge. Ramos and Boineau paced the squad with a combined five top-10 finishes and stroke averages of 72.33 and 72.50, respectively. Both shot low rounds of 69 during the fall.
"I think we had a good fall and we finished on a great note," Ianello said. "What I really liked watching was how the girls adapted to the new coaching staff. They're doing really great with our new regiment of practice. I'm really proud of Isabelle Boineau. She has improved a lot in this last year with her consistency and her stroke average is lower. Margarita Ramos, of course, is definitely one of our best players. She had some great rounds in fall but she had some rounds where she struggled. I hope going into the spring, that I will see Margarita get a little more consistent."
Sophomore Kyndall Ardoin is also making a name for herself during the offseason and the fall competition slate. She played eight rounds in three events this fall with a low round of 67. She tallied a stroke average of 75.12.
"Kyndall Ardoin, who was not in last year's lineup, has been working her tail off," Ianello said. "She played all summer long and then she crept into the lineup in the fall, and she's going to be a big force on this team this semester. I can already see it in her dedication in practice the last couple weeks. Kyndall has really progressed wonderfully."
"Kyndall is a kid who last year wasn't even qualifying to play as an individual in tournaments, and is now really coming into the lineup and playing in our three and four spot. I've been so happy with Kyndall. Her hard work has really been shining through, and I'm excited to see just how much she does progress even this spring."
The Wildcats are paced by lone senior Llaneza. During the 2009-10 season, she finished in the top-10 at two events and in the top-20 in two events.
"Alejandra came out of the gates this spring semester in qualifying, and shot a round that's five under, and a round that's four under par," Ianello said. "I'm starting to see Alejandra get a little more confident and ready to go for it this year."
Freshman Haley Andreas prepped at Pacific Grove High School in Pacific Grove, Calif. She earned first-team all-conference honors all four years and was a four-year member of the honor roll. During the 2010 fall season, Andreas played five rounds in two events. She carded a low round of 72 and averaged 75.80 strokes per round.
"Haley's my only freshman and she's really been a competitor," Ianello said. "She's very close to breaking into the lineup. I think she's an even greater asset to the team because she is bringing another level of competition where the girls who are in the lineup know that their spot is not a hundred percent safe. If they play bad one week, Haley Andreas can slide into that spot at any time. I think that's good. There's more competition on this team than there was last year but the girls still get along great. They're making each other work hard, which a coach loves to see."
Across the board, the Wildcats are working on all aspects of the game and encouraging competition within the team. Ianello is pleased with the progress she's seen since last spring and the last fall competition.
"We are really working on par five scoring," Ianello said. "It's been a huge weakness for our team. We have to make sure we are using our par fives to our advantage. I've really seen that the girls are working extremely hard on their putting. Instead of having thirty-two to thirty-four putts each round, getting it to below thirty is a huge goal for us. The girls are working hard on every aspect of their games."
"Kyndall, who really struggled with her driver last year, has been fitted and has a new driver, and she's hitting it wonderful," Ianello said. "Hitting fairways, hitting greens, just trying to simplify and not to over think a golf course, and just play, try to attack it. Have the golf course be their competitor and not the rest of the field."
The spring season begins with the Wildcat Invitational, at The Golf Club at Vistoso, on Feb. 7-8. Arizona will make trips to Los Angeles (Bruin Wave Invitational, 2/28-3/2), Waikiki, Hawaii (Dr. Donnis Thompson Invitational, 3/15-3/17), San Diego, Calif. (The Battle at the Rancho Bernardo Inn, 3/20-3/22) and Tempe, Ariz. (PING ASU Invitational, 4/1-4/3).
"We are playing in UCLA's tournament in the beginning of March, which is always a great field," Ianello said. "Any time you're playing against Pac-10 teams, you know you're playing against the best. Arizona State's tournament, the Ping Invitational, is the first week of April. It's at Karsten Golf Course, and that's also where they are hosting the Pac-10 Championships. I feel that if we come out strong on ASU's territory, and play well in their home tournament, then we will have a good week and a half at home to prepare for the Pac-10 Championship, which is also at ASU."