Round table: Projecting the year for women’s tennis
The past few seasons, Tennis has experienced a resurgence with a pair of 20-win seasons the past two years. How do you see them doing this season?
Staff writer Michael Calderon: With former head coach Patrick Sullivan resigning, the program will be undergoing changes with the new regime, so improving on their past success in year-one will be a tall task. Keeping above the 20-win mark may prove too difficult, but this is a talented group, and finishing with 17 or 18 marks in the win column is definitely a realistic expectation.
Sports writer Tevin Mills: I expect the tide to continue this year for the tennis team. The losses of last year’s seniors Elena Kordolaimi and Charlotte Phillips will definitely be felt but not enough to derail the team. There are able bodies ready to step up and fulfill those roles on the team.
Do you expect any drop-off with the transition to a new head coach in Courtney Steinbock?
MC: A first-time head coach like Steinbock is sure to encounter a few speed bumps along the way. Replacing a coach that left the program in good shape does not make the transition any easier. Steinbock has had a lot of success though, so I expect that she will be able to pick up where the team left off last year. Going beyond that level of success is something that will have to be reserved for her second year, however.
Assistant sports editor Efren Diosdado: I can see Coach Steinbock making improvements to the team, but not immediately. The team will need to take a step back before they can take a step forward. I see Steinbock using the fall semester to get to know the team’s strengths and weaknesses and the spring semester to make improvements.
Last season, Despoina Vogasari was a top player for the Cougars. Do you think she continues her strong play into this season?
Sports editor Bryce Dodds: One thing Vogasari has proven at her time at UH is she knows how to win, and I expect that to continue this season. Last season, she was ranked as high as No. 21 in the ITA singles rankings, and I can see her exceeding that this year. While not the most senior member of this team, I expect her to be a leader for the squad and to continue to develop her game.
TM: Absolutely. Vogasari was only a sophomore last year and had tremendous success and like all other sports, she will improve with reps and experience. She went an impressive 25-8 as a freshman, and then improved to 30-9 last year. She will look to build on past success and advance futher into the NCAA tourney this season.
MC: While the team is returning many of the same players as last year and some natural progression is to be expected, a dramatic improvement is too much to ask for in the first year of the Courtney Steinbock era. I do think that the former Oklahoma State assistant has enough experience and talented players to make it back to the first-round again, but I don’t see them moving past that point.
TM: Along with player progression, the team has had a steady progression over the past years. Though it obviously hurt to lose that early last year, it will bring a confidence and bravado to the team that won’t allow complacency or anything less than further advancement.