LARAMIE, Wyo. -
Team chemistry and a fresh new look are the key factors this season as the Cowgirl Tennis team looks to open the 2004 spring season. Wyoming will not only bring experience back to the court this season, but welcomes a good mix of freshmen to the line-up as head tennis coach Pam Wildt enters her fifth season at the helm.
Five letterwinners and three newcomers will lead the Cowgirls into their eighth season of existence. Four individuals competed this fall in the Central Region Tennis Championships, including the doubles team of sophomore Patricia Chien and freshman Karolina Rowinski. With all of the returning players and the addition of the newcomers, Wyoming will look to improve on an 8-15 overall record and 0-7 mark in the conference. Though last year's record didn't always show it, Wyoming played good tennis against a challenging schedule and had some close matches, and their expectations will be even higher this year.
"This season will be a very positive one for the Cowgirl program," said head tennis coach Pam Wildt. "Our goals as a group and individually are simple in that we are working towards winning a few Mountain West Conference matches this spring and the possibility of a regional team ranking. I also expect to make an impact with the team and help take them to a new level here at UW."
The 2003-04 Cowgirl squad is made up of two seniors, three sophomores and three freshmen. With a couple of seasons and recruiting classes under her belt, Wildt feels this team can really go places.
"This year's team has several things going for them," she added. "The team chemistry has been a real plus, the girls seem to get along well and that can only help us achieve our goals this year. With only two seniors and six underclassmen I would consider this a young team, but the energy and enthusiasm they bring to the courts day in and day out has been and will continue to be an asset."
Several individuals will be biding for the top part of the line-up, including the Cowgirls two seniors Jennifer Hancock and Yuliani Santi. Santi finished the fall with a 6-4 singles and a 6-6 mark in doubles play along with her partner Jen Hancock, while qualifying for the Central Regional Championships for the second year in a row. Hancock had a solid fall finishing 5-5 in singles play, along with winning her opening match at the Central Regional Championships Qualifying round.
"Both Jen and Yuliani have learned what it takes and is needed to win conference matches," said Wildt. "Jen will be looked upon to play high in our doubles line-up and provide some senior experience in that position. She will need to be a steady performer and someone we can rely on to get us a point every time she takes the court. Ani will also be asked to step-up in the doubles department and provide a spark for us there. She will also play high in the singles line-up as much will be asked of her this year as one of our two seniors."
Sophomores Patricia Chien, Gwen Moser and Megan Williams also return for the Cowgirls and all look to have break-out seasons. Chien returns after an outstanding freshman campaign in which she finished 16-17 overall in singles play at the number one position and winning her first two matches of the Central Region Tennis Championship Qualifying round before falling in the Round of 16. This season, she has posted an 8-4 mark heading into the spring. Sophomore Gwen Moser looks to return to her old form as she was hampered last season with injuries, and will bring intensity and depth to the doubles line-up while competing for a spot in singles. She finished the fall with a 6-3 singles mark, including winning the last three matches in a row, and 5-5 with doubles partner Amy Senko. Second year player Megan Williams has made tremendous improvements in her doubles game, and will battle for a spot in the line-up. She completed fall play with a
5-5 singles mark and 4-2 record with her doubles partner freshman Andrea House.
Newcomers Andrea House, Karolina Rowinski and Amy Senko round out the Cowgirl tennis roster. House, a freshman from Hammett, Idaho, had an outstanding fall by posting a 6-3 overall singles mark, along with a 4-2 doubles record with partner Megan Williams. She has a beautiful one-handed backhand and a solid all-around game. Rowinski is a 5-11 freshman from London, Ontario, Canada, who has a very powerful game and will make an immediate impact in the line-up. She finished the fall with a 6-4 singles record and a 5-5 doubles mark. Freshman Amy Senko, from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, is a player that brings a great deal of experience to the court. In just her first season of competition, she finished with a 4-5 singles mark and 5-5 with doubles partner Gwen Moser.
"We have one of the strongest freshmen classes ever and they could make an immediate impact on this team. Each one of them brings something different to the table, power, intensity, discipline and great work ethics, and as a group I couldn't be more pleased with them at this point. They are very enjoyable to work with."
The Cowgirls will also have a challenging non-conference schedule against some very high powered tennis programs like Denver, Nebraska, and Wichita State followed by an extremely competitive Mountain West Conference schedule. The spring schedule kicks off February 1 with a match against Denver in Cheyenne. In all, Wyoming hosts three matches this season including Denver, Feb. 1 in Cheyenne, plus two conference match-ups against Utah, April 17, and BYU, April 23 which will be held in Laramie. UW will meet Air Force, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, and UNLV all on the road. This year's Mountain West Conference Championships will once again be hosted by San Diego State in San Diego, Calif., April 29-May 1.
"We have a challenging schedule this year and it leaves little time for a rest," said Wildt. "We hit the ground running with Denver University in February and I look for them to be a top 50 team this year. From there we are playing some strong competition all the way until conference begins at the end of March. Our spring break trip in Florida should be a good warm up and we should enter conference with some confidence from that trip. Confidence is a necessity for us going into our MWC matches."
With all of the pieces falling in place, Head Coach Pam Wildt and the Cowgirls will no doubt be an exciting team to watch this spring, and look to make great strides in their game.