Jan. 24, 2013
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The University of Memphis women's tennis team (2-0) will be one of 60 squads from around the country to compete in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's (ITA) Kick-Off Weekend this Saturday and Sunday.
Memphis will travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala., one of 15 sites for the women's event, to face Alabama in the first round Saturday at 10 a.m. before playing either Clemson or Tulsa on Sunday. The Lady Tigers and Tulsa will join Rice and Tulane as the four Conference USA schools participating in the prestigious event.
"We are all excited for this weekend and for what it can mean for our program, university and city," said head coach Lee Taylor Walker. "But we are focused on keeping everything in perspective and just controlling what we can control. We are prepared and we are going to have a lot of fun going for it!"
The Lady Tigers had a strong showing at the Georgia Invitational with a 14-6 singles record and 5-4 doubles mark over the three-day tournament. Memphis' biggest win of the weekend was Courtney Collins' victory over Kansas State's No. 15 Petra Niedermayerova, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3, Sunday. After going 3-1 to open the spring, Collins was named Conference USA Women's Tennis Athlete of the Week on Tuesday.
ITA Kick-Off Weekend - Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Saturday, January 26
Memphis vs. Alabama - 10 a.m.
Clemson vs. Tulsa - 2 p.m.
Sunday, January 27
Consolation - 10 a.m.
Championship - 2 p.m.
|Scouting the Opponents
Alabama opens its season with the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. The No. 9 team has four players ranked in the top-125 with Mary Anne Macfarlane coming in at No. 12 in the rankings. In doubles, Macfarlane and Alexa Guarachi are No. 2 in the country. The Crimson Tide return five letterwinners from a team that finished 18-5 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. A couple of the Lady Tigers faced Alabama in the team's final fall tournament, the Dick Vitale Lakewood Ranch Intercollegiate Clay Court Classic. Alyssa Hibberd and Caroline Wegner both defeated Emily Zabor while Skylar Kuykendall took down Antonia Foehse. The lone loss to the Crimson Tide came in doubles play when Foehse and Maya Jansen defeated Kuykendall and Liza Tymchenko, 8-5. This will be the first meeting between the two schools in 26 years with the Crimson Tide holding a 15-3 record against Memphis.
Lee Taylor Walker on Alabama
"Alabama plays their team matches with a lot of enthusiasm. They are known for that and we will be emotionally ready to match the intensity."
Clemson moved up to No. 20 in the latest poll after it opened the season by claiming the top singles flight and the top three doubles flight at the Clemson Indoor Tennis Classic. The Tigers have three players ranked in the top-80 in the nation with Yana Koroleva ranked No. 32 to lead the team. The Tigers finished 16-10 last season with an appearance in the NCAA second round. Clemson sports a young roster with four freshmen and four sophomores and return just two letterwinners from 2011-12. Memphis and Clemson have battled just once with a meeting in 2011 where Clemson won 4-0 in Memphis' second match of the season.
Lee Taylor Walker on Clemson
"Clemson has several players with lots of experience on the WTA tour. We will be ready to match their maturity on the court and their professionalism."
Tulsa is no stranger to the Lady Tigers as the two squads had 5-2 and 4-3 matches last season with Tulsa coming out on top. Tulsa ranked No. 24 in this week's ITA poll after sweeping UALR and Oral Roberts on Sunday to begin the season. Samantha Vickers is ranked No. 124 in singles while her and teammate Isaura Enrique are No. 9 in doubles. The Golden Hurricane hold a 5-1 series advantage. Tulsa returns four letterwinners from last season's Conference USA championship squad. The Golden Hurricane finished 23-4 on the season and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Tulsa attended the Memphis Invitational in the fall as Memphis went 6-2 against the Golden Hurricane.
Lee Taylor Walker on Tulsa
"Tulsa has a confidence that they are the team to beat in C-USA just like always. We're ready to counter that confidence with great determination by believing we are the team to beat now."
Following the ITA Kick-Off Weekend, the Lady Tigers will begin a four-match homestand during the month of February. Memphis opens up with Morehead State on Friday, Feb. 1 and then hosts ranked opponents in Kansas State (Feb. 15), Columbia (Feb. 17) and Virginia (Feb. 24). All four matches will be played at The University Club on Central Avenue with FREE admission.
Memphis moved up six spots in the Jan. 22 ITA poll after opening the season with 7-0 sweeps over Lipscomb and UT Martin. The Lady Tigers are close to their program-high ranking of No. 51, which they achieved on Mar. 20, 2012. The duo of Collins and Kelly Gray entered the spring ranked a program-best No. 18 after a 4-0 fall season record while Stefanie Mikesz and Caroline Wegner ranked No. 35 after a 4-1 fall mark.
Collins and Gray already rank in the top-10 in career wins as Collins is fifth in singles wins and Gray is tied for fifth in the doubles column. Collins has now posted 82 wins and needs 16 more to break Stacy Seamans' (1979-83) record of 97. Gray has notched 71 wins during her career and needs 22 more to break Lindemann's (1999-03) school record of 92 wins.