2004-05 Women's Tennis Season Outlook|
Jan. 16, 2005
They are another year older and another year wiser, so it's safe to say that the six returning members of the USC women's tennis team are in good shape as they prepare for the start of the 2005 dual match season.
After losing four starters the year prior, this year's Women of Troy squad has nearly kept its lineup intact. USC returns four-of-six starting singles players from a squad that posted an 18-7 overall record in 2004, compiled a 7-1 mark in the Pac-10 to finish in second place, and ranked eighth according to the ITA after advancing to the NCAA Round of 16.
Not a bad performance from a team that featured five freshmen. Now they are ready to make the upcoming season even better.
"This is probably the most competitive, feisty and motivated team I have had here at USC," said head coach Richard Gallien, who enters his 10th season at Troy with a 219-107 (.672) collegiate career record. "I am really looking forward to seeing what this team is capable of."
Last year's senior class left behind a group of standouts with plenty of experience. Five experienced returners will also welcome two top prep standouts who will compete for the top vacated positions in singles and doubles.
"We have five players who are extremely capable, talented and well-adjusted to collegiate play," said Gallien. "To add to that, we brought in two freshmen who will have no problems stepping in to some of our top positions. I do not see any reason why we should not do very well. I expect a very steady effort from our returners and I'm looking to the newcomers to force constant competition."
The most difficult part for the Women of Troy will be having to deal with the sudden loss of Luana Magnani. A 2004 All-American and three-year starter, she was expected to resume her role at the No. 1 position in the lineup but was declared ineligible for her senior year in December.
Without Magnani, junior Carine Vermeulen (Stellenbosch, South Africa) and sophomore Anca Anastasiu (Pretoria, South Africa) are left with the responsibility to guide this team both on and off the court. Vermeulen has been named team captain for the season and the pair is expected to expected to resume their roles at the top of the lineup.
Vermeulen, who played primarily at No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles, also earned ITA All-American honors in doubles last season. Paired with Magnani, she compiled an 18-10 overall record and 15-8 mark in dual matches, earning a No. 8 final ranking. In singles, she finished the year ranked 62nd with a 29-11 overall record and a 19-7 record in dual matches. Vermeulen was also named to the All-Pac-10 honorable mention team.
Anastasiu, who joined the team in January, compiled the Women of Troy's best overall singles record at 20-9 (.690) and went 17-7 in dual matches. She finished the year ranked 49th in the final ITA singles poll and earned All-Pac-10 second team honors after advancing to the semifinals at the Pac-10 Tournament. Anastasiu accounted for a 14-12 record in doubles play.
"These players certainly know that I expect an outstanding effort from them this season," said Gallien. "They have to show up every day and handle themselves well in order to set the standard for the rest of the team and make up for our lack of depth."
This young team is expected to rely greatly on its underclassmen, including sophomores Dianne Matias (Torrance, Calif.) and Judy DeVera (Carson, Calif.). Matias played at No. 4 singles last season and compiled an 18-15 overall record and 14-8 record in dual matches.
Meanwhile, DeVera, who competed at No. 5 and went 18-12 overall, had her dual match season cut short. In January, she suffered a severely sprained ankle that kept her on the sidelines for a number of weeks. She underwent surgery in July and is expected to pick up where she left off.
"Both Judy and Dianne are doing great," said Gallien. "Judy is successfully recovering from surgery and it will be very important to have her back on the court for us. Dianne had a tremendous fall and I expect great things from her this year."
Newcomers Lindsey Nelson (Villa Park, Calif.) and Nicole Leimbach (Colorado Springs, Colo.) will provide stiff competition for the remaining positions. They came to USC with a long list of accolades at the junior levels and have already proven their worth. Nelson advanced to the finals of the ITA Regional in October, while Leimbach earned a spot at the ITA All-America Championships in November and advanced to the semifinals thanks to numerous upsets.
"Lindsey and Nicole are doing exactly what I thought they would be doing, and they have had no problems adjusting to this level of play," said Gallien. "They will be outstanding additions to our lineup and I think they'll enjoy the energy and excitement that goes along with team tennis during the regular season."
Nelson's and Leimbach's early accomplishments have already attracted national attention. In the preseason individual rankings, Leimbach begins the year ranked sixth and Nelson enters at No. 29. In addition, Anastasiu earned a No. 62 ranking, Matias enters at No. 70 and Vermeulen is ranked 78th. Vermeulen and Nelson are ranked 36th in doubles.
USC enters the season ranked seventh nationally according to the ITA preseason poll. With three teams in the top 10 and five in the top 25, the Pac-10 Conference once again features the nation's top tennis teams. All nine conference teams earned rankings, including No. 1 Stanford, No. 4 UCLA, No. 7 USC, No. 10 Washington, No. 17 California, No. 27 Oregon, No. 38 Arizona State, No. 42 Arizona and No. 66 Washington State.
The Women of Troy's 2005 schedule also features seven other ranked nonconference opponents: No. 11 Texas, No. 19 TCU, No. 35 Harvard, No. 37 Pepperdine, No. 54 San Diego, No. 58 Long Beach State and No. 65 San Diego State.
The 2005 season begins with a pair of home matches on Jan. 19 and 21, as USC hosts Cal Poly and Long Beach State at Marks Tennis Stadium. The season concludes with the Pac-10 Individual Championships, April 21-24, in Ojai, Calif., followed by the first and second rounds of the NCAA Championships, May 19-22, at sites to be determined. The final four championship rounds will be held in Athens, Ga., May 23-26, and hosted by Georgia.