MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The University of Memphis women's tennis team has a lot to look forward to in the 2013 spring season, including the return of two of the team's top players in senior Courtney Collins and junior Stefanie Mikesz.
The Lady Tigers finished 16-5 in 2012, their best winning percentage in program history, while reaching a program-best ranking of 51 in late March. Memphis also sent the school's first tennis player to the NCAA Tournament as No. 33 Collins represented the Lady Tigers at the tournament in Athens, Ga.
Memphis welcomes Lipscomb and UT Martin to The Racquet Club of Memphis this week as the Lady Tigers face LU on Tuesday at 11 a.m. before taking on UT Martin on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.
Memphis will face Lipscomb for the third time in the past five years and the fifth time overall. The Lady Tigers have a 4-0 record against the Bisons and have recorded sweeps in the past two meetings. The U of M has a 12-7 record against Atlantic Sun opponents. Memphis holds a 19-4 advantage against UT Martin in a series that dates back to 1976. Memphis defeated the Skyhawks 6-1 last year in Martin, and have posted an 87-43 mark against Ohio Valley Conference teams.
This is Our House
The Lady Tigers have dominated opponents that come to play at The Racquet Club over the past few seasons. Memphis owns a 19-match winning streak that spans back to Apr. 9, 2009 when the Lady Tigers fell to Arkansas State, 6-1, in their last home match of the season. Under head coach Lee Taylor Walker, the Lady Tigers are 31-6 at home.
Home Sweet Home
Memphis will play 14 matches at home this season, the most since the 1983-84 season when the Lady Tigers played 16 matches. Memphis hosts four matches - Morehead State (Feb. 1), Kansas State (Feb. 15), Columbia (Feb. 17) and Virginia (Feb. 24) - during the month of February that will be played at The University Club. The month of March is a busy time for the Lady Tigers as they host eight teams at The Racquet Club. UCF (Mar. 8), Saint Louis (Mar. 10), Murray State (Mar. 10), Illinois State (Mar. 16), South Alabama (Mar. 23), Southern Illinois (Mar. 23), UTEP (Mar. 30) and Southern Miss (Mar. 30) will be making trips to The Bluff City for Memphis' eight-match homestand.
Memphis came in at No. 58 in Campbell's Jan. 3 ITA rankings. The Lady Tigers will have a chance to state their case early in the season with matches against No. 6 Georgia, No. 10 Alabama, No. 67 Kansas State and either No. 22 Clemson or No. 25 Tulsa. The duo of Collins and Kelly Gray entered the spring ranked a program-best No. 18 after a 4-0 fall season record while Mikesz and Caroline Wegner ranked No. 35 after a 4-1 fall mark. Memphis was one of 15 schools in the country to have two or more doubles teams ranked in the top-60.
Collins and Gray already rank in the top-10 in career wins as Collins is sixth in singles wins and Gray has the same spot in the doubles column. Collins has posted 79 wins and needs 19 more to break Stacy Seamans' (1979-83) record of 97. Gray has notched 70 wins during her career and needs 23 more to break Sabrina Lindemann's (1999-03) school record of 92 wins.
The Lady Tigers had a successful fall season, but played most of it without Collins and Mikesz who missed the early part of the season recovering from injuries. However, the two were not slowed down in the action they did see on the court.
Mikesz returned in late October to post a 6-3 doubles record, including a 4-1 mark with Wegner. Collins made her season debut at the team's final tournament of the fall, the Dick Vitale Lakewood Ranch Intercollegiate Clay Court Classic. Collins joined Gray to capture the doubles title as the duo downed Notre Dame's No. 36 team of Brittany Sanders and Julie Sabacinski while also defeating two Florida pairs and an Oklahoma State team.
Also bringing home hardware from the Dick Vitale Classic was sophomore Liza Tymchenko, who defeated two ranked opponents and posted five wins overall to win the tournament. Tymchenko ended the fall with a 13-3 record in singles and 7-4 mark in doubles.
Freshman Skylar Kuykendall also had a strong fall season, finishing with a 10-4 record in singles play, the second-most wins by a Lady Tiger. The duo of Alyssa Hibberd and Tiffany Welcher faced several top teams from around the country to open the season. The team won three matches at the USTA/ITA Ohio Valley Regional before falling in the semifinals to the No. 51 Vanderbilt pair of Ashleigh Antal and Marie Casares, 8-6.