The CSU women's tennis team will begin their new season this weekend in Provo, Utah with the BYU Invitational Tournament.
Behind standout junior Emily Kirchem – currently ranked 120th in the nation going into the season – the nine varsity team members are looking forward to a new season full of possibilities.
"The fall season is great for finding where we all are at competitively on the team," said freshman Anne Andersen, the number two ranked player on the team, and Kirchem's current doubles partner. "We ended last season very well, and we have high hopes going into this season."
The Rams are coming off a successful 2004-05 campaign in which the team posted a 15-9 dual match record for its second winning season in a row. The team also won the consolation bracket at the Mountain West Conference Tournament, beating rivals Wyoming and Utah in the process. The Rams ended the season in fifth place in the MWC.
This year, head coach Jon Messick, who is in his 15th season as head coach, leads the team. Messick likened the fall season to a preseason or training camp in other sports.
"We use the fall season's tournaments to evaluate or lineup; especially the freshmen. We get to see how they react and where they stack up in competition," Messick said. "It helps us identify strengths and weaknesses in competition that we do not see in practice."
Beyond sizing up his own team, Messick said the fall tournaments are good indications of how well the Rams stack up in the region and the MWC. The tournaments also serve as an opportunity for the individuals on the team to gain recognition beyond the confines of Fort Collins.
"We like to see our players show up in the rankings individually, and help the team get ranked going into the spring," Messick said. "The individual performances do go on each player's record, which carries on into the spring season. The spring season is when we have the dual matches and play for the conference and the NCAA national tournament."
This weekend in Provo, the Rams will be taking on MWC foes Utah and the BYU Cougars, who are currently ranked No. 22 in the nation. Along with them will be teams from around the region, including Utah State, Weber State and Boise State.