Women's Tennis ITA Preseason Rankings/All-American Selections Unveiled
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - With the 2012-13 season less than two weeks away, the Memphis women's tennis team received national recognition as the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) announced the 2012-13 preseason rankings with four Lady Tigers being recognized. ITA also announced the selections for the All-American Championships that included five Lady Tigers who were chosen to play at the event later this month.
In the ITA rankings, the top-125 players were released while the top-60 pairs were named in doubles. Courtney Collins was the second-highest ranked player in Conference USA, coming in at No. 21, the highest ranking ever for a Lady Tiger, after going 27-7 in 2012. Collins had a stellar junior campaign as she advanced to the NCAA Championships and ended the year ranked No. 34.
"I worked really hard last year and had a couple of big wins so it helped a lot," Collins said. "I'm really excited and ready to be out there playing again."
Junior Stefanie Mikesz came in at No. 65 after tying for the most wins on the team last year with 29. Mikesz made a considerable jump in the rankings after finishing last season at No. 97 in the nation.
"It was great last year to even be ranked," Mikesz said. "I was trying to play the best I could, and that's what the result was. It wasn't a goal to get ranked but it was a bonus that I got."
After transferring from the University of Alabama in 2011, Tiffany Welcher finished 21-11 in her first season at the U of M to rank No. 115 in this year's rankings.
"I'm pretty pleased with myself," Welcher said. "I worked really hard last year to keep playing on the team. I pulled my groin back in February so I'm just happy to be playing right now."
In doubles, Welcher and sophomore Alyssa Hibberd were picked No. 31 after finishing 20-8 in 2012. The duo was later named to the All-Conference USA Third Team, the first doubles team to be named to a C-USA team in program history. The pair tied for the highest preseason ranking ever for a Memphis doubles team as Sabrina Lindemann and Monica Gonzalez-Gordo earned a No. 31 ranking in 2003.
"I was very happy with our doubles ranking," Hibberd said. "We had some really good wins last fall and carried on into the spring season. We were very pleased with the fact that we got into the main draw of the doubles at All-American."
All four Lady Tigers, in addition to senior Kelly Gray, were selected to play in the 2012 Riviera/ITA Women's All-American Championships, beginning Saturday, Sept. 29 at the Riviera Tennis Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
Collins and Mikesz were selected to the qualifying draw in singles while Collins is listed as an alternate to the main draw.
"The first time we ever got invited to this tournament was two years ago," said head coach Lee Taylor Walker. "Courtney and Stefanie were the first two players from the University of Memphis to ever play there. The All-American is a huge tournament for us. My expectations for Courtney and Stefanie are because they've had two years of experience out at the All-American Championships and have seen some of these higher-level matches and tougher opponents that they'll feel more secure there."
Welcher will begin play in the prequalifying draw with Hibberd listed as an alternate. In doubles, the duo will compete in the main draw while Collins and Gray are in the prequalifying draw.
Prequalifying singles and doubles matches will begin Sept. 29 while the main draw is set to start Thursday, Oct. 4. The Lady Tigers will begin the season Friday, Sept. 21 at the USTA 10k in Amelia Island, Fla.