Salukis looking for reversal

By Gus Bode

Salukis looking for reversal from last year

Women’s tennis team recruits five new players for upcoming season

Three healthy players, two injured players and another leaving at midseason doesn’t add up to a good season for the SIU women’s tennis team. But five new recruits plus three returning players does equal high expectations.

Advertisement

SIU head coach Judy Auld doesn’t hesitate to admit that the past season was disappointing for both her and the team.

In 28 years, I’ve never had such a bad season, Auld said. It’s not a season any coach wants to go through.

The disappointments started early on.

Tana Trapani was red-shirted because of a hip injury after the first tournament.

Another player, Sandy Swanepoel, went home to South Africa for Christmas break and didn’t return for the spring season.

Sarah Krismanits, who played much of the season injured, had to end her season prematurely because her injury became too severe for her to continue. And because the team was left with just three players, they ended the season early and didn’t participate in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.

It was tough enough for them to go out with four girls because there is a chance of winning, but everybody has to win all of their matches to win the match, Trapani said. And then when Sarah got hurt, we went down to three players, and you can’t win a match with three players no matter if they won all their matches.

Advertisement

Auld began recruiting early because of the dwindling list of available players.

I really got to a point where I just tried to really concentrate on recruiting, Auld said. And even though we were playing and I was still working with the players, I still had to move forward and really concentrate on recruiting.

Her hard work paid off with five new recruits joining the team for next year.

Maria Blanco, the younger sister of junior Alejandra Blanco, and Zuzana Palovic from Canada are joining the team as freshmen. Jessica Knitter, a native of California, is a junior transfer. The names of the two other recruits cannot be released until their paperwork is complete.

I think we are going to have a really diverse team, Trapani said. It’s going to be fun. I think everybody is going to get along. All of them that I have talked to seemed like really good people, and I think they are going to be good players.

Five recruits, two returning players and one player recovering from an injury means the Salukis may start next season with eight players.

It’s going to be interesting from all of a sudden going from not having enough players to having more than enough players, Auld said. In the fall, I’m just going to look at trying to develop them a little bit more as players, work on any weaknesses they have, try to develop team chemistry, if they’re not in shape to get them in shape and getting them use to being in college. Hopefully the fall will just help to carry us into the spring.

Expectations for next season are high for the new team, but Auld and the rest of the players know that there are still kinks to be worked out.

With it being such a young team, we may not do as well next year but then the following year, if everybody stays and improves, I think we have a good shot of being a really good team in the future, Auld said.

The team refuses to let the past disappointing season dampen hope for the future.

I am excited about next year and the biggest thing to remember is that we just have to move forward, Auld said.

Advertisement