Under the leadership of head coach Jon Messick, the Rams’ women’s tennis team travels to Des Moines, Iowa, today to take part in the Drake Invitational.
The Rams will try to continue where they left off after senior Sanja Hanson won the singles championship at the BYU Invitational on Sept. 28.
The Rams’ lineup is almost unrecognizable from the one that took the courts last year after losing three seniors to graduation.
The Drake Invitational will go on until Saturday and will be an opportunity for Messick to see what the team’s strengths and weaknesses are.
“We have three new players this year, Messick said. “We use these fall tournaments to shuffle the lineups and see what works.”
The Rams’ new players are freshmen Jessica Jones and Carla Pallares, as well as sophomore transfer, Tatyana Ugorich. Messick is impressed from what he has seen with his new players so far.
“Jessica and Carla are ahead of what we usually see as freshmen,” Messick said. “Their level of play is much higher than I expected.”
With all the new players there were questions at the beginning of the season on how well the players would gel as a team. Those questions have been answered.
“Everyone’s getting along really well. We’re working hard both on and off the field,” said Dasha Zhurin, a sophomore from Fort Collins. “I think we’re doing really well, we’ve already beaten CU this year.”
That said, there is always room for improvement and the Rams aren’t settling into a state of complacency.
“The more we play and practice together, the better we will be,” Zhurin said. “It’s just a matter of getting everyone experience playing at this level of competition.”
After the tournament this week the Rams will compete in the Omni Hotels Central Championship in Tulsa, Okla., starting Wednesday. The Rams will send their top two players, Hanson and Zhurin, to compete in both singles and doubles.
“Tulsa is what we peak for in the fall,” Messick said. “We want to get better in doubles play. That’s what let us down last year and that’s what we’ve been working hard on this fall.”
The tournament in Tulsa will complete the fall season for the tennis team and they will stop competing until they compete in team play in Lincoln, Neb., against Drake on Feb. 8.
-Edited by Jon Ackerman and Josh Hardin