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Helena Besovic believes UH tennis will take step forward this fall

UH tennis head coach Helena Besovic expects big things from the Cougars in her fourth year leading the program. | Courtesy of UH athletics

UH tennis head coach Helena Besovic expects big things from the Cougars in her fourth year leading the program. | Courtesy of UH athletics

With seniors out of the picture and new faces being brought in, a lot is up in the air for the Houston tennis program in terms of pairing.

A fall season could be just what it takes to get ready for the spring and nobody recognizes this more than head coach Helena Besovic, who is now entering her fourth year with the program.

The focus for the fall

After the COVID-19 pandemic cost the Cougars a chance at a fall season, nothing is being taken for granted this time around for Besovic.

“Fall is kind of our time to get ready for the spring, we have a good full schedule,” Besovic said. “Last season we didn’t have the fall because of COVID, so we started the spring without having a chance of competing in the fall, it was tough.”

The fall season can give the players a chance to see how well they work with each other in doubles.

Besovic feels these fall matches will make a big difference in preparation for the 2022 spring season.

“The doubles teams will get used to playing with each other, the players will get more matches,” Besovic said. “It’s very important so in the spring they can be better prepared and ready.”

While most of UH’s doubles pairings are up in the air, junior Azul Pedemonti and sophomore Blanca Cortijo Parreno, the Cougars’ lone ranked pair from last season, return and will headline.

While big things are expected from Pedemonti and Cortijo Parreno, Besovic plans to focus on getting more players ranked to build momentum going into the spring

“The goal is just for each player to get better and for us to get better in both singles and doubles because fall is a good opportunity for the players to get an individual ranking,” Besovic said. “We play against good teams in the fall, so we’re going to have a lot of opportunities to play against ranked players as well.”

Difference makers with seniors gone

With seniors Mimi Kendall-Woseley and Phonexay Chitdara having graduated the leadership and responsibility within the UH tennis program have had to shift to different student-athletes.

Both Sophie Gerits, the lone senior on the roster, and Pedemonti have taken the initiative according to Besovic.

“Our captains this year are Sophie Gerits and Azul Pedemonti,” Besovic said. “The two of them gave stepped up and they’re doing a good job leading the team.”

Along with Gerits and Pedemonti, Besovic also expects big things from the UH sophomores on the roster.

Besovic believes that the sophomores having a year under their belt will pay dividends for the Cougars in the long run.

“With Laura (Slisane), Blanca (Cortijo Parreno), and Gabriella (Giraldo) being sophomores this year and having a year of experience, I think we’re going to see them keep improving.”

Freshman Maria Dzemeshkevich is also someone Besovic says to keep an eye on.

Dzemeshkevich impressed her coach at the SMU Invitational in late September, showing that she can be one of the Cougars’ impact players in her first collegiate season.

“Maria, one of the freshman, did really well at SMU too,” Besovic said. “She challenged some of the Texas Tech girls out there that are ranked high.”

Besovic is high on this UH team already and expects them to only get better.

The group is confident going into the new season and expects to take major strides forward throughout the course of the year.

“This time around, we feel more confident that we can challenge teams and improve our ranking,” Besovic said.

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