With SEC tennis set to kick off on Thursday, get up to speed on all 14 of the conference's women's teams below.
The Alabama women’s tennis team, coming off its first NCAA Championship Round of 16 appearance, returns four players from a season ago and welcomes another four more to the lineup. Among the returnees is senior Mary Anne Daines, née Macfarlane, who is ranked No. 28 in the ITA preseason singles rankings and has been the Crimson Tide’s No. 1 player for the past three years, junior Emily Zabor, the 2013 Elite 89 Award recipient, and sophomores Maya Jansen, the 2013 ITA Southern Region Player to Watch, and Natalia Maynetto, a 2013 SEC All-Freshman Team member. Joining Alabama this year is junior Luicelena Perez and freshmen Carmen Blanco, Erin Routliffe and Danielle Spielmann, who have all played a wealth of tennis on the national and international stage. Routliffe enters her rookie campaign ranked No. 8 in the ITA’s newcomer rankings and pairs with Daines for the No. 16 ranking in doubles. The Tide is under the direction of 2013 Wilson/ITA National Coach of the Year Jenny Mainz, who enters her 17th season, and assistant Max Norris and volunteer assistant Mari Muller.
The Razorbacks will compete in nine events this fall, including playing host to their own Razorback Classic. The season begins Sept. 20-22, with select Razorbacks competing at either the Little Rock Classic in Little Rock, Ark., or the William & Mary Tribe Invitational in Williamsburg, Va.
The Auburn women are coming off one of their best seasons to date after going 19-9 with seven conference victories and reaching the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers finished the year ranked No. 25 in the nation. It’s highest final ranking since the 1996 season. Auburn brings back the SEC’s reigning Freshman of the Year, Pleun Burgmans, who tallied 22 singles victories, 16 in dual matches at the No. 1 position. Along with Burgmans are veterans senior Jackie Kasler and junior Jen Pfeifler. Both Pfeifler and Kasler combined for over 35 singles victories and will begin the year ranked No. 23 in doubles. The Tigers first fall tournament will be the Riviera/ITA All-American starting Sept. 28 and will feature five Auburn players.
All four returning letterwinners appeared in the ITA Preseason Singles Rankings, with Sofie Oyen No. 16, Alexandra Cercone No. 38, Brianna Morgan No. 64 and Olivia Janowicz No. 75. Freshman Belinda Woolcock is No. 7 on the National Newcomers ranking chart. Oyen also received an automatic berth into the main draw of the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships. The Gators will play host to the Bedford Cup (Oct. 10-13) that features players from all over the state competing in singles and doubles draws. Woolcock is one of three true freshmen on the Gator roster this year, joining Kourtney Keegan and Stefani Stojic. The 2013-14 season will be Roland Thornqvist’s 13th year as UF’s head coach. He has guided the Gators to 3 NCAA titles, 9 SEC regular-season championships and 9 SEC Tournament crowns.
The Georgia women’s tennis team enters the 2013-14 season fresh off if its ninth SEC regular season championship and a third straight NCAA quarterfinal berth. The Bulldogs’ outlook is ripe as they return six players, all of who played key roles in the 2012-13 success. All-American junior Lauren Herring, who finished the season ranked No. 7, will anchor the Georgia lineup in singles, and doubles All-Americans senior Kate Fuller and sophomore Silvia Garcia, who spent the majority of last spring as the top-ranked doubles tandem, will lead the Bulldog doubles slate. Senior Maho Kowase, who, along with Herring picked up All-SEC First-Team honors, will also be an important cog in Georgia’s singles and doubles lineups. Georgia’s success last season could largely be contributed to the play of a strong freshman class which accounted for nearly 35 percent of the team’s singles victories, almost exclusively in January. Garcia, along with rising sophomore Mia King will hope to build on a firm freshman foundation for a strong sophomore campaign. Georgia opens its season Sept. 20-22 at home with the Bulldog Classic, and will conclude in May as it plays host to the NCAA Championship.
The Kentucky women’s tennis team only boasts two seniors but with seven returners from the 13-win 2012-13 team, the Wildcats have a wealth of experience heading into the 2013-14 campaign. Transfers Kelsey Dieters and Kate Lanier add to Kentucky’s experience, with freshman Aldila Sutjiadi contributing more young talent. Sophomore Nadia Ravita looks to improve on her historic freshman season that featured 20 wins and a singles at-large bid for the NCAA Championships. Stephanie Fox returns for her junior season after winning 14 matches as a sophomore, while Caitlin McGraw, one of two seniors, looks to use her experience and improve on her 12 singles wins as a junior. Dieters and Ravita received bids to compete in singles competition at the 2013 Riviera/ITA Women’s All-American Championships, while Ravita and McGraw received a qualifying draw for the doubles competition. McGraw and Ravita anchored the No. 1 doubles slot last spring, winning nine matches.
The Lady Tigers will welcome four newcomers to their squad for the 2013-14 season. Freshmen Skylar Holloway, Gabrielle Otero and Abigail Owens, along with Texas transfer Noel Scott will join returning letterwinners senior Ariel Morton, junior Mary Jeremiah and sophomore All-Louisiana First Team selection Ella Taylor. The No. 14 and highest-ranked recruiting class in program history is sure to make an impact on the team in Julia Sell’s second year as head coach at LSU. All three freshmen are five-star recruits with rankings within the Top 75, including 30th-ranked Owens, according to the Tennis Recruiting Network. Junior transfer Scott competed in the NCAA Doubles Championships alongside partner Breaunna Addison, and the duo finished the year ranked No. 21. Scott and Jeremiah notched the No. 44 spot on the preseason doubles rankings, and Otero will kick off LSU’s fall season, as she received a wild card to compete in the qualifying round of the Coleman Vision Tennis Championships Pro Circuit.
Ole Miss returns six starters from last year’s team, which earned the program’s fifth consecutive NCAA bid. Leading the way for the Rebels this season is senior Caroline Rohde-Moe, who begins the year ranked No. 39 in the nation in singles and No. 24 in doubles with sophomore Marija Milutinovic. Sophomore Mai El Kamash is ranked No. 85 in singles to start the year. Also returning are veterans Julia Jones, Erin Stephens and Iris Verboven. The Rebels begin the year Sept. 13 at the Duke Fab Four Invitational. The fall portion of the schedule features several top tournaments, including the year’s first major, the Riviera All-American Championships. Rohde-Moe will begin her quest in the Qualifying singles, while El Kamash and Jones will start in prequalifying. Rohde-Moe and Milutinovic earned a spot in the Main Draw doubles.
With the 2013-14 collegiate tennis season beginning, the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs enter the season holding high expectations. Returning this season is sophomore Georgiana Patrasc, who was a true freshman last spring named to the 2013 All-Southeastern Conference Team, claiming second-team honors. She is also nationally ranked by the ITA at No. 76 in singles, a new career best. Also coming back to lead the Lady Bulldogs is the duo Alexandra Perper (senior) and Naomi Tran (junior), who hold the No. 48 spot in the ITA national rankings in doubles. Perper and Tran remained ranked at the national level for the majority of the 2012-13 campaign and, in addition, held a win over the No. 4 ranked team in the country. Joining those three as returnees this year are Rosie Dion and Petra Ferancova. Newcomers Martina Frantova and Timea Guibe, both freshmen, have promising futures in the Bulldog family as well and will make their season debuts this fall.
Missouri opens up the 2013 fall season with the Mizzou Tennis Invite in Kansas City, Mo., Sept. 20-22. The squad will then play in the ITA Central Regionals, Oct. 17-21, in Norman, Okla. The Tigers close out the fall season at the Midwest Blast in Champaign, Ill., Nov. 1-3.
The South Carolina women's tennis team kicks off its fall 2013 schedule at the William & Mary Invitational on Sept. 20. The Gamecocks return five letterwinners from a season ago with seniors Katerina Popova and Dominika Kanakova, juniors Elixane Lechemia and Alex Martin, and sophomore Ximena Siles Luna. Carolina added three newcomers to its roster with Oklahoma State transfer Meghan Blevins and freshmen Caroline Dailey and Brigit Folland. Katie Fosnacht, a sophomore eligibility-wise, is able to compete this season after sitting out last year upon transferring from Coastal Carolina. The Gamecocks also return Natalie Looney, who joined the team last spring after enrolling in school early. Two players appear in the national singles rankings this fall with Popova topping the list at No. 77 followed by Blevins at No. 109. Kanakova and Lechemia registered at No. 38 in the national doubles rankings as well.
The Lady Vols welcome six new members to the tennis team this fall in freshmen Ashlee Boles (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), Laurence Guevremont (Montreal, Quebec), Brittany Lindl (Panama City, Fla.), Victoria Olivarez (Virginia Beach, Va.), Ambika Pande (Guragon, India), and Eve Repic (Oakville, Ontario). Tennessee will kick off their fall schedule as a team at the Furman Fall Classic on Sept. 27. The team will also participate in the Texas A&M Fall Tournament and the Tennessee Fall Invitational. Also on the Lady Vols’ schedule are the ITA All-American Championships, the USTA/ITA Regional taking place in Memphis, Tenn. and the USTA/ITA National Indoor Championships. Returning for the Lady Vols from last season’s team are senior Kayla McMurry, juniors Caitlyn Williams and Joanna Henderson and sophomore Tiffany Tavares. Williams (No. 3) and Henderson (No. 4) paired up as a doubles team for the majority of the 2012-13 season. Tavares will look to move up the line-up from No. 5/6 singles.
Third-year head coach Howard Joffe returns five letterwinners from last year’s historic team that went 26-4, tied Florida and Georgia for first place in the SEC and finished with a record-high No. 3 national ranking after advancing to the NCAA Championship match for the first time in school history. He also welcomes four newcomers as he looks to fill the roles of last year’s seniors, two-time All-American Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar, all-SEC selection Nazari Urbina and Wen Sun. Cristina Stancu, the lone senior on the 2013-14 squad, and sophomore Stefania Hristov are No. 8 in the ITA preseason doubles rankings and have been invited to play in the doubles main draw at the 2013 Riviera/ITA Women’s All-American Championships. Stancu is No. 48 in the preseason singles rankings and sophomores Ines Deheza and Anna Mamalat are No. 106 and 108, respectively, while freshman Rutuja Bhosale is listed 10th in the ITA’s freshman/newcomer rankings. Texas A&M opens the fall season Sept. 13-15 at the Duke Fab Four Invitational in Cary, N.C.
Entering his 20th season, Vanderbilt’s longest-tenured coach, Geoff Macdonald will look to get his team back to NCAA Championships for the 20th-straight season. The Commodores are returning all their key players from last season, while also adding two freshman, who are expected to make an impact. Despite not making it past the second round of NCAA’s last season, this young squad has high hopes and looks to get back to the championship caliber of play it once held.