Herd Tennis Heads to Sunshine State for ITA Kick-Off Weekend
Marshall will take on ULM Saturday and either No. 3 Florida or Cal State Fullerton Sunday
ULM (0-0, 0-0 Sun Belt) vs. Marshall (0-0, 0-0 C-USA)
Saturday, Jan. 28 | Noon
Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex | Gainesville, Fla.
Marshall (0-0, 0-0 C-USA) vs. No. 3 Florida (0-0, 0-0 SEC)/Cal State Fullerton (1-0, 0-0 Big West)
Sunday, Jan. 29 | TBD
Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex | Gainesville, Fla.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The Marshall women’s tennis team opens its spring dual match season Saturday when it takes on the ULM Warhawks in the Gainesville regional of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. Defending national champion Florida and Cal State Fullerton are the other teams in the regional.
After failing to qualify for the Kick-Off Weekend Regionals in 2017 following an 11-11 campaign in 2016, the Herd rebounded to post 14 wins in 2017, earning the third seed in Conference USA and reaching the quarterfinals of the conference tournament. This is the sixth time that Marshall has reached the regionals, previously participating in 2009 (Athens, Ga.; Georgia), 2011 (Clemson, S.C.; Clemson), 2012 (Chapel Hill, N.C; North Carolina), 2015 (Los Angeles; UCLA) and 2016 (Chapel Hill, N.C.; North Carolina).
LOOK WHO’S BACK
The Herd returns a trio of seniors from the 2016-17 team that won 14 matches and reached the quarterfinal of the Conference USA Tournament. Maddie Silver and Stephanie Smith each received Second Team All-Conference USA Honors a season ago. Silver and Smith combined for 28 singles wins and 23 doubles wins during the 2017 dual match season. Marija Bogicevic returns after playing in seven matches, mostly in doubles action.
The Herd welcomes three newcomers to the team. Sophomore Brooke Lashway joins the Herd after spending her freshman campaign at South Florida. Lashway is joined by a pair of freshmen in Anna Smith and Ana Marhuenda.
SCOUTING THE WARHAWKS
Louisiana Monroe returns four players from its 2017 team that posted a 16-2 record and won the Sun Belt Conference championship (regular season and tournament). Leading the way for the Warhawks is Stefana Andrei, who posted a 12-3 record at the No. 1 spot, earned First Team All-Sun Belt singles honors and Second Team All-Sun Belt doubles honors and is ranked No. 125 nationally heading into the 2018 season. Also returning for ULM is Madalina Grigoriu, who was 12-3 while playing mostly at No. 6, Karolina Snita, who was 9-3, playing mostly at the No. 5 spot and Agata Bienkowska, who did not play a match at any of the top six spots. ULM was decimated by transfers, losing a trio of players to other schools. First team singles performer Tiffany Mylonas transferred to Washington State, Luana Stanciu left for South Dakota after seeing limited playing time and Patricia Villar decided to join Florida Gulf Coast.
SCOUTING THE GATORS
Florida returns four players from its 2017 team that went 29-3 overall, finished with an 11-2 record in the Southeastern Conference, won the SEC regular season title, finished as runner-up in the SEC tournament, was ranked No. 1 for the entire season and won both the ITA National Indoor Championship and the NCAA Championship. The NCAA championship was the seventh for the Gators in their storied history. Leading the way for Florida is Brooke Austin, who was the SEC Player of the Year an NCAA doubles champion in 2016. Austin has 50 singles wins in her dual match career and has a dual match singles winning percentage of .833. Austin also has a career doubles dual match record of 59-14. Josie Kuhlman was an All-American in 2015 and earned All-SEC First Team honors. Kuhlman owns a singles dual match record of 46-16 and a doubles dual match record of 47-13. Anna Danilina has a singles record of 40-6 and a doubles record of 39-5 in two years of competition. Peggy Porter also returns for the Gators. Florida lost a pair of seniors in national singles runner-up Belinda Woolcock and Spencer Liang. Ingrid Neel, who won the championship clinching point as a freshman, decided to forgo her remaining three years of eligibility and turn pro.
SCOUTING THE TITANS
Cal State Fullerton is the lone team of the four schools in the regional to have played a dual match this season. The Titans defeated Division II opponent UC San Diego, 7-0, in their season-opening match on Jan. 18. Cal State Fullerton finished the 2017 season with a 19-4 record, finishing in fourth place in the Big West Conference regular season standings, behind regular season champion Hawai’i, tournament champion UC Santa Barbara and Long Beach State. Cal State Fullerton reached the semifinals of the conference tournament before falling to Hawai’i. Cal State Fullerton loses four-time First Team All-Big West singles performer Alexis Valenzuela and Second team All-Big West performer Camille De Leon to graduation, but returns its leaders in the Nos. 3, 4, 5 and 6 positions in Karla Portalatin, Sarah Nuno, Masako Makiba and Danielle Pham, respectively.
ABOUT ITA KICK-OFF WEEKEND
The 10th annual Intercollegiate Tennis Association Kick-Off Weekend takes place January 26-29, 2018, at 24 different Division I tennis facilities across the country. In all, there are 60 teams competing per gender in ITA Kick-Off Weekend events.
There are 15 "regionals" played on both the men's and women's side, with four teams competing in each regional. The winners of the single-elimination event advance to next month's ITA Division I National Team Indoor Championships. Wisconsin (women's) and Washington (men's) will serve as hosts for the National Team Indoors and received automatic invitations to the event, and are exempt from competing in the Kick-Off Weekend.
Host sites for the ITA Kick-Off Weekend were determined using the final 2016-17 Oracle/ITA Collegiate Tennis Rankings. A draft was held to fill the No.'s 2-4 seeds at all locations, again using the final national team rankings as a guide to determine draft order.
Opening round contests at each location pits the No. 1 (host) seed versus the No. 4 seed, and the No. 2 seed against the No. 3 seed. The two winners advance to the following day's championship match, while the two losing teams will square off in a consolation match.
Match One: No. 1 seed Florida (No. 3 national ranking) vs. No. 4 seed Cal State Fullerton, 9 a.m.
Match Two: No. 2 seed ULM vs. No. 3 seed Marshall, noon
Championship Match: winner of match one vs. winner of match two, 8 a.m.
Consolation match: loser of match one vs. loser of match two, 10 a.m.
ULM: first meeting
Florida: first meeting
Cal State Fullerton: first meeting
FOLLOW THE HERD
For the latest information on the Marshall women’s tennis team, follow the Herd on Facebook (Herd Tennis), Instagram (@herdtennis) and Twitter (@Herd_Tennis).
The Herd is back in action Feb. 3-4 at the Courtside Classic in Minneapolis, Minn. Marshall takes on host institution Minnesota in its first match on Feb. 3 and will play either Utah or DePaul on Feb. 4.