Wednesday, September 19

Veteran women’s tennis team resembles champions of 2008


Women's tennis in 2010 has all the ingredients to serve up another NCAA Championship

Senior Yasmin Schnack is one of the five veterans returning to the women's tennis lineup. The Bruins open their season after a disappointing third-round loss in last year's postseason. Coach Stella Sampras Webster said the Bruins, though strong in singles, are weak on the doubles side.`

Senior Yasmin Schnack is one of the five veterans returning to the women's tennis lineup. The Bruins open their season after a disappointing third-round loss in last year's postseason. Coach Stella Sampras Webster said the Bruins, though strong in singles, are weak on the doubles side.` Daniel Khayat / Daily Bruin


Sophomore right-hander Nina Pantic and the Bruins will begin their 2010 season on Jan. 26 against Pepperdine at the Los Angeles Tennis Center.

Having won the 2008 NCAA Tournament, the UCLA women’s tennis team went into last year’s postseason looking to defend the title, but had their campaign derailed by a loss to Miami in the third round. But senior Yasmin Schnack, the team’s No. 1 singles player, and the fifth-ranked singles player in the nation, has higher hopes for this year’s squad.

“Coming back with the same five people in the lineup and with another really experienced player, it’s kind of similar to the year we won (the national championship),” she said.

The 2010 version of the team returns five experienced players from last year’s lineup and boasts three highly touted newcomers. Schnack will most likely fill the top spot in the lineup, followed by juniors Andrea Remynse, Maya Johansson, transfer Noelle Hickey, and sophomores Nina Pantic and Carling Seguso. Hickey played extensively last year at Georgia Tech, and coach Stella Sampras Webster will be looking for her to bring that experience to the table.

“Noelle has a ton of experience,” Sampras Webster said. “She had a great year at Georgia Tech (last year), and I see her as being a big leader for us. She’s someone who has the goods. She’s a great tennis player and is not afraid to speak up.”

UCLA brought in quite the recruiting class for the new year as well, with freshmen Stephanie Hoffpauir and Pamela Montez joining the fray. Their addition makes the Bruins remarkably deep, with eight players who could each merit a spot in the top six. Sampras Webster admits that keeping all her players happy will not be an easy task.

“It’s going to be tough but I’m hoping that everyone’s on the same page, that it’s all about the team, and it’s going to be a tough decision,” she said. “It’s going to be my decision, and what I keep telling my players is they just need to focus on their tennis and not worry about the results ““ the lineup ““ because this is a team. If they do that, they’ll have the right attitude of what we want on this team.”

While the singles lineup may be an area of strength for the Bruins, the doubles could be cause for concern. Schnack and Remynse were nearly unbeatable as the top tandem last season, but inconsistencies abounded at the No. 2 and 3 spots, a problem which Sampras Webster could see happening again.

“In the fall, there was no team that really stood out to me,” Sampras Webster said. “We knew Noelle was coming in January and she was definitely going to be in the doubles lineup, so now it’s just figuring out, if Andrea and Yasmin are going to play at No. 1, who’s going to play with Noelle, and those two and three teams have got to be solid. If we can make some adjustments we will, but that’s how it is. You always want to find out the chemistry of the teams and find out who complements who.”

The Bruins have highlighted the dates of three events on their calendars: Feb. 11-14 at the National Team Indoor Championships, where they will face top non-conference opposition; March 3rd at USC, where they will take on their evenly matched crosstown rivals; and April 2-3 at California and Stanford.

“We’re really, really excited for (the Stanford/California weekend), especially because last year they wiped us out,” Schnack said.

For UCLA, the challenge will be staying focused on getting back to the summit they reached two years ago.

“We really need to prove ourselves,” Sampras Webster said. “We want to always contend for a title, and that’s our goal every year. But in the meantime, we’ve got to improve. It’s a long process, it’s a long season, and our focus is improving every day.”

First competition rained out

Tuesday’s match against Cal Poly was cancelled due to heavy rain forecast for the rest of the week. UCLA announced that the match will be made up later in the season, but an exact date has not been announced.

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