SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Highlighted by five returning players, including two-time All-Big West Conference first team selection Alexa Lee, the Cal Poly women's tennis program opens its 2013 spring dual match season when hosting Division III UC Santa Cruz on Sunday, Jan. 13 at the San Luis Obispo Country Club. Match time is set for 10 a.m.
"This being our first match of the season, we're looking to focus on the things we can control during matches. If we focus on competing, having a strong attitude and playing disciplined, we'll have accomplished our goals," said second-year head coach Damon Coupe, whose Mustangs were 10-11 overall last spring and 5-3 against Big West opposition to finish in the top half of the conference standings for a fifth successive season. "This will give our new players a chance to compete in the dual match format, which is something they haven't been able to do yet."
Lee, who won nine singles matches playing at the No. 1 position and a team-best 13 doubles matches as a junior last spring, returns for Cal Poly alongside the junior quartet of Jennifer Cornea, Gabrielle Gatewood, Ane McPike and Kathryn Webb (top). Cornea won eight singles matches last spring splitting time between the No. 2 and 3 positions and teamed with Gatewood to post a 7-2 mark in doubles action. Gatewood, meanwhile, won a Cal Poly-best 13 singles matches last spring playing at the No. 3, 4 and 5 positions. McPike enjoyed a breakout year last spring by winning nine times in both singles and doubles action. Webb won 10 singles matches last spring – including posting a team-best 6-2 mark in Big West matches – and claimed nine doubles victories.
Cal Poly's four-player freshman class, ranked No. 4 among Tennisrecruiting.net's Top 25 Mid-Major Women's Recruiting Classes, comprises Sophia Bott (San Clemente, Calif.), Haley Kepler (Santa Cruz, Calif.), Anna Klavins (Davis, Calif.) and Louise Oxnevad (Queenstown, New Zealand).
"We've made a lot of progress during the fall in getting our new players up to speed," said Coupe, who's Mustangs competed in three tune-up tournaments. "The returning players have been improving and are more comfortable after having been in our system for more than a year. Our goal this season is to be tireless competitors. We want our opponents to feel our presence. If we win, that's great. But if we lose it will be because the opponent beat us, not that we gave them the match."
Following Sunday's 2013 opener, Cal Poly squares off against No. 47 Washington on Sunday, Jan. 20 in a match hosted by Hawai'i before facing the 54th-ranked Wahine on Jan. 21. Both matches begin at 11 a.m. PT for Cal Poly, which will face seven programs during a 21-match spring dual schedule that appeared in the Jan. 3 edition of the Campbell's ITA College Rankings.