Feb. 15, 2002
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
Desire and motivation are the two factors this season that Wyoming head tennis coach Pam Wildt believes will take her team further than they've ever been. Five letterwinners and two newcomers pilot the Cowgirls in the sixth season of the program.
Though a record of 4-17 and 0-7 in the Mountain West Conference last year didn't show it, Wyoming played good tennis against a challenging schedule and had some close matches. With a full years' experience under their belts, the Cowgirls should be able to beat teams they were close with last year. Coach Wildt is confident in her team's learning how to prepare for certain matches. "We learned a great deal last year. We now need to move on and have a better record this year," Wildt said.
Wyoming brings another young but experienced team to the court with two juniors, four sophomores and one freshman. The team lost two letterwinners in Angela Dossetor, who is an undergraduate assistant this year, and Sofi Espinosa.
Top player Jenny Bowman returns as a sophomore with anticipation of a solid season. "Jenny had an outstanding freshman year and a great fall season with some super wins," Wildt said. "She has beaten one Nationally ranked player and a couple of Regionally ranked players. Jenny is only on her way up. I was disappointed that she didn't get a Regional ranking." Last season she posted a team high 13 wins and went 6-2 in the fall, earning her second consecutive trip to the Central Region Championship.
Sophomore Jen Hancock also returns for the Cowgirls and has proven herself after hardwork and dedication. "Jen's work over the summer has paid off," Wildt said. Hancock moved from No. 5 and 6 in the lineup last year to making the Central Region qualifying draw in the fall for the first time in her college career. With doubles partner Bowman, the pair qualified for the Central Region tournament and are expected to win some key matches this spring.
Also returning for UW are junior Paulina del Monte along with sophomores Yuliani Santi and Toni Terhaar. Paulina will help keep the team together with her enthusiasm and positive attitude," said Wildt. She had seven wins last season and started the fall with a 4-2 record. Santi and Terhaar should also be able to make some key wins after a year of experience. They both had a nice fall, posting records of 3-3. Santi had a winning tournament record of 5-4 last year. Terhaar has really increased her power over the summer and played well early on, she looks to have more wins this spring. "Toni has developed much more of a variety to her game," Wildt said. "She's very excited for the spring. She'll be looked upon as a valuable role model to the team."
Newcomers Kati Gyulai and Ivana Milosevic round out the Cowgirl tennis squad. Junior transfer Gyulai achieved her first Division I win during the fall and has provided experience and competition for the team. Milosevic, a freshman, was hampered by injuries all fall and could not compete. She's had to work extremely hard to be ready for the spring and will hopefully play into the bottom of the lineup.
Unity is important to the Cowgirls this season to win matches. "It's essential that we stick together and play together to be successful," Wildt said. "I try to put the best lineup out there and everyone has a responsibility to win her own match. As long as this team plays with confidence, we will have a good chance to win some conference matches that we haven't won before."
Doubles play will also be pertinent to the Cowgirls' success. This team places much more importance on doubles play than teams of the past. "We need the doubles point to instill more confidence going into singles play," Wildt said.
The Cowgirls play another tough schedlue this season with challenges of strong tennis programs at bigger schools. The spring schedule kicks off February 9 and 10 with matches versus Army and Missouri. Wyoming hosts four matches including Southern Methodist in Cheyenne March 13 and three conference duels versus Utah, BYU and Colorado State in Laramie April 5, 6 and 7. UW meets the other four MWC schools on the road. This year's Mountain West Conference Championships will be hosted by BYU in Provo, Utah, April 25-27.
A year of experience along with positive attitudes and the teams' health should make the Cowgirls competitive this spring. "We are fitter, stronger and healthier than we've ever been," Wildt said. The team works hard on and off the court making major improvements in strength and conditioning. Perhaps the greatest benefit from their workouts has come in their serves, overhand and overall quickness. The team is also competitive in the classroom with an overall GPA of 3.0, impressive considering how much the squad travels. "I'm proud of the way the girls keep up with grades and projects as much as we travel. We are on the road more than a lot of other tennis teams in the country," Wildt said.
The Cowgirls will no doubt be an exciting team to watch this spring, and look to make great strides in their game.