April 29, 2010
Indian Wells, Calif. -
By Summer Mollo
Media Relations Intern
The Cal State Fullerton women's tennis team has struggled this season due to injuries and rebuilding with a relatively young roster. Though it has been a tough season, the women never gave up. They won their last two matches of the regular season and go into the Big West Tournament with newfound confidence.
"The good thing is that the women are very supportive of each other," said Coach Bill Reynolds.
For the first round Thursday at the tournament the team will be playing UC Riverside. They just beat the Highlanders in the final regular season match and they have the poise to beat them again. If they win, they will play the No. 1 seed Long Beach State.
Fullerton's Nos. 1, 2 and 3 positions on the team are held by freshmen and Coach Reynolds believes that they will get better with time.
"Though we had a tough year, we are having a strong finish," said Reynolds, who has been the Titans' head coach since 1989-90.
The impact players on the team are freshmen Tiffany Mai, Monica Rodriguez and Malorie de la Cruz. They have a promising season ahead of them next year. The team will have one full year of experience under its belt and will add some quality recruits -- one from Palm Desert and one from Orange.
"The most improved player is Katie Nichols," said Coach Reynolds. "Though she is No. 8 on the team and doesn't get a lot of playing time, she has improved a lot this past year."
The women on the tennis team are on the courts any given day practicing for two hours and then going to the gym for another hour of conditioning.
"It is important to build confidence in this sport," said Coach Reynolds. "There are a lot of freshmen who could be 18 years old who are playing seniors that are 22 or older that have a lot more experience. The women on this team are supportive of each other, work hard, and believe in themselves."
The team is very close knit. They all had a team building experience and went ice skating together. Karina Akhmedova ice skated when she was younger, and by the end of the night all the girls were out on the floor skating together.
Starting next year the team will volunteer with Disney Goals. It is a new recreational center in Anaheim. They plan on volunteering twice a year, and a few of the girls on the team will volunteer this summer at the center.
"The girls are students first, athletes second, and third, have a social life," said Coach Reynolds. "They are so close on and off the court. It's good because it helps the freshmen transition from high school to college."
The biggest thing that Coach Reynolds wants to avoid next year is injuries. Junior Erin Wiesener had injuries throughout this season.
During the summer the team stays in shape by playing in USTA tournaments. Practice for the season resumes in the fall.