COLLEGE STATION -- The Texas A&M women’s tennis team had its first practice of the spring season today, and Aggie head coach Bobby Kleinecke was impressed with what he saw.
“Everybody came in with a really good frame of mind and a good attitude and were excited to be back playing again,” said Kleinecke, who is entering his 24th season at the helm of the Aggies. “It’s been a long break since we have been able to practice as a team, but I could tell they had gone out and played a lot during the time off, so I’m very happy with that. It’s just fun to get going again.”
Kleinecke welcomes back five letterwinners from last year’s team that went 17-9, including 8-2 in the Big 12, and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championships.
Highlighting the list of returners is junior Elzé Potgieter (Bloemfontein, South Africa), a member of the 2008 All-Big 12 Team in singles who was ranked No. 101 in the 2008 final Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) released in May.
Also returning is sophomore Christi Liles (Largo, Fla.), who led the Aggies with 29 singles victories last year, as well as the sophomore duo of Stephanie Davidson (Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas) and Morgan Frank (Oldsmar, Fla.) who were the Big 12 champions at the No. 3 doubles line after going 11-0 in conference matches.
In addition, Kleinecke returns much-improved Christina Amo (Fort Worth, Texas), a junior who led the team in singles victories in the fall with a 10-4 record. He also welcomes three heralded freshmen: TennisRecruiting.net five-star recruit Ashley Turpin (New Braunfels, Texas) and four-star recruits Sheri Olivier (Topeka, Kan.) and Lauren Santacroce (Spring, Texas).
The Aggies begin the season in less than two weeks, as they open Saturday, Jan. 24 against the University of Denver at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center. First serve is at 1 p.m.
The Pioneers, ranked 28th in the preseason ITA poll released January 6 are coming off their best season after winning a school-record 23 matches and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Championships before being knocked out by eventual national champion UCLA.
Overall, 10 of A&M’s 11 non-conference opponents are against teams that advanced to the NCAA Championships last year. Also, 17 of the Aggies’ 22 regular-season matches -- not including possible matches at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships -- will be against teams that ranked in the top 75 in the 2008 final ITA rankings.
“The season is right upon us, and we are needing to be ready to go as soon as we come out of the blocks,” Kleinecke said. “I would put the first half of the schedule up against anybody in the country. That is a very strong schedule, so the opportunity is there for us. We just have to put it out on the court and see where we stand.”
A&M, listed No. 31 in the ITA preseason ranking, has a total of 11 home matches during the regular season and then will serve as host of the 2009 NCAA Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships, May 14-25.
Tickets to all home events, including NCAAs, are available for purchase by calling 1-888-99-AGGIE or going online at 12thManFoundation.com.
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