NEW ORLEANS – When Tulane head women’s tennis coach Terri Sisk announced her plans for the 2008-09 season back in October, she described the Green Wave’s first season on the court following the program’s suspension in 2005 as a series of baby steps that would help lay a foundation for the future.
After going 12-11 during the spring season, including a 3-4 showing in Conference USA action, the future looks very bright. The present season, however, is far from over as the Tulane team will open play in the 2009 C-USA Women’s Tennis Championship on Thursday, April 16, when the 10th-seeded Wave take on No. 7 seed UCF at 2 p.m. (CDT) at the Jake Hess Tennis Stadium on the campus of Rice University in Houston.
While the Green Wave may be a long shot to win the league tourney, Sisk was quick to point out that each match her team plays this weekend will be another step in the overall recovery of a team that features a very storied history.
“This is what we care about – if we do everything right and we put into play everything we’ve harped on all year, then good things will happen,” Sisk said. “There are a lot of talented teams in Conference USA this year. SMU is No. 22 in the country right now and they’re going to be a tough team to beat. They’re very top heavy.
“But I’m not really thinking about winning the conference tournament. I don’t care about that. What I care about is beating UCF. Once we take that, we’ll take it one day at a time. If we can get through UCF, then we’ll focus on Tulsa. If we can get through Tulsa, then we’ll worry about the next team. We’re just going to handle it day by day.”
Tulane is 24-8 all-time in C-USA Tournament play since the league’s inception in 1996 and won the league’s tourney title in 2001 and from 2003-05. The 2009 tournament, however, will be an altogether different experience for this Green Wave team as the eight freshmen will be making their first postseason tournament together.
As a team, Tulane is 72-67 is singles play in 2009, including a 17-25 mark against C-USA schools. Freshman Mariam Kurdadze leads the team with a 19-5 singles record after going 10-3 at the No. 1 spot and 9-2 in the No. 2 slot in 2009. Lindsay Dvorak and Caroline Gerber rank tied for second on the team with nine wins each while Anna Bartenstein sits 7-4 since assuming the top spot in the singles lineup midway through the spring.
In doubles play, the Wave are 30-33 overall and 12-9 in league action. The tandem of Kurdadze and Dvorak paces the club with a 13-5 mark with wins in their last two outings, and are a combined 5-1 in C-USA play.
“With the exception of the match against Kansas (on April 10), we’ve really turned it around in a lot of areas on the court over these last five or six weeks,” Sisk said. “I see the girls starting to get a bit of an upper-classmen mentality, and that is something that we’ve been pushing for.”
UCF, meanwhile, enters the C-USA Tournament 11-9 on the year and 1-0 in league play. Their lone conference match during the season came at Tulane on March 10 in the Goldring Tennis Center when the Knights escaped with a slim, 4-3 victory.
As a team, UCF is 63-57 in dual-match singles play and is led by Katie Orletsky with a 13-5 record while playing in No. 5 and No. 6 singles. Christy Core and Alexis Rodriguez, meanwhile, sit tied for second on the team with 10 wins apiece during the spring season.
In doubles action, the Knights are 34-25 in 2009. The UCF No. 1 tandem of Jenny Frisell and Elvira Serrot lead the team with a 12-4 record, while Core and Orletsky are next at 8-6.
“I’m just excited to play them again,” Sisk said of her team’s first-round opponent. “There are three or four teams on the schedule this year that we wanted to play again, and this was one of those teams. So in a way, I’m really happy that we get a chance to play UCF in the first round.”
The 2009 C-USA Women’s Tennis Championship will run through Sunday, April 19, with the championship match slated for 10 a.m. (CDT). The winner of that match will receive the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
2009 CONFERENCE USA WOMEN’S TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE
Thursday, April 16
Match 1: No. 5 Rice vs. No. 12 Southern Miss, Bank A Courts, 10 a.m.
Match 2: No. 8 UTEP vs. No. 9 Memphis, Bank B Courts, 10:00 a.m.
Match 3: No. 6 East Carolina vs. No. 11 UAB, Bank A Courts, 2:00 p.m.
Match 4: No. 7 UCF vs. No. 10 Tulane, Bank B Courts, 2:00 p.m.
Friday, April 17
Match 5: No. 1 SMU vs. Match 2 Winner, Bank A Courts, 10 a.m.
Match 6: No. 4 Houston vs. Match 1 Winner, Bank B Courts, 10 a.m.
Match 7: No. 2 Tulsa vs. Match 4 Winner, Bank A Courts, 2 p.m.
Match 8: No. 3 Marshall vs. Match 3 Winner, Bank B Courts, 2 p.m.
Saturday, April 18
Match 9: Match 5 Winner vs. Match 6 Winner*, 12 p.m.
Match 10: Match 7 Winner vs. Match 8 Winner*, 12 p.m.
*the highest remaining seed will play on the Bank A Courts
Sunday, April 19
Match 11: Match 9 Winner vs. Match 10 Winner, Bank A Courts, 10 a.m.