Oct. 3, 2006
Santa Clara, Calif. - After seeing their head coach leave his post just days before the season began, the Bronco women's tennis team has had an unusual start to the season. Despite the circumstances, the team, led by interim head coach Ben Cabell, has gotten off to a strong start through two tournaments against some excellent competition.
"I am proud of how the team has been playing so far," said Ben Cabell. "We have faced some of the top competition in the country in the first two tournaments and the players have responded well."
The Broncos opened their season on Sept. 22 at the Bulldog Classic in Fresno with eight players in action that weekend. Four players won first round matches in the tournament as captains Casey Knutson and Myra Davoudi reached the Round of 32, along with junior transfer Lindsay McBride and senior Erika Barnes. Knutson met the tournament's top seed in the second round and lost, but the match displayed the unity of this year's squad.
"Even though I lost my second match at the Bulldog Classic, I felt good about it," said Knutson. "The whole team was there pulling for me and that means a lot. We have a good group here and I think that we are closer as a team this year than in past years."
Barnes agrees with Knutson's assessment of the team's togetherness.
"We have been working hard and having fun on the court this year," said Barnes. "We have dealt with some hardships and so we have really come together as a team. If we continue to count on each other this way, I think that we will have successful season."
The newcomers have also been incorporated quickly into the team and already feel comfortable with their roles on the team.
"The girls on the team have been very helpful and have made it an easy adjustment for me," said McBride, who transferred from Texas Christian. "They have supported me both on the court and off so I feel great being here and I really think that we have an exciting and talented team."
Following the strong showing at the Bulldog Classic, the Broncos traveled to Berkeley for their second tournament last weekend, the Cal Invitational. The team entered the draw a little shorthanded as injuries to Samantha Georgino and Flavia Miracle gave the team only six competitors for the tournament, which featured some of the top teams and players in the country, including 2006 NCAA Singles Champions, Susie Babos and the 2006 Pac-10 Singles Champion, Zsuzsanna Fodor for Cal. In addition, members of the 2006 NCAA team champion, Stanford, participated in the tournament. Two other competitors Fresno State and Arizona State finished the 2006 campaign in the top 25, coming in 20th and 24th, respectively, while Long Beach State just missed the top 25, ending up No. 26.
Barnes led the way for the team as she won her first round match against a competitor from San Francisco before losing in the second round to Arizona's Kasia Jakowlew. McBride won her second singles match of the year in the consolation bracket as well.
Despite the uneven results at Cal, the team has continued to work hard and improve their play as they prepare for the rest of the fall season. The matches have also shown the Broncos what they need to do to raise their level.
"The first two tournaments have been really good for us because we played some great competition and that showed us exactly what we need to work on," said Davoudi. "Having a little break before the next tournament is great because we can focus and get some good practice in so that we are ready to perform at our highest level in the next tournament."
The next tournament for the Broncos takes place the weekend of Oct. 13 - 15 at Saint Mary's, where the Broncos again will face some of the stiffest competition in the country. However, with the team more unified than ever, they appear primed to pull off some impressive results.
"We have not gotten that breakthrough win against a higher seed in the first two tournaments," said Barnes. "But if we keep practicing like we have been and staying close as a team, I think that good things will happen for us and we will pull off some big wins."