Falcons Open Spring Season at Colorado on Wednesday
The Air Force women's tennis team opens its 2006 spring schedule on Wednesday, Jan. 18 against the University of Colorado in Boulder, beginning at 4 p.m. The Falcons are coming off a very impressive fall season, which saw their top doubles team of senior team captain Kat Bushey and freshman Christine Abayan post an 11-4 doubles record and a No. 8 ranking in the Central Region.
Here is the season outlook for the women's tennis team:
As Air Force head coach Kim Gidley enters her eighth season with the Falcons, she finds herself with as deep a team as she has had in her previous seven seasons. With two of the top three players back from the 2004-05 campaign and a solid group of freshmen, Gidley's expectations for the '05-06 season are very high.
Gidley, the first civilian coach in program history, is the winningest coach in the program's history with a 98-92 career record entering the '05-06 campaign.
Leading the way this season is the lone senior on the squad, team captain and No. 1 player Kat Bushey. The team's MVP, Bushey won a team-high 16 overall singles matches and 11 dual matches at the top spot last season. She was also honored by the MWC as its Sportsmanship Award winner, the third straight year a Falcon has won the award. She and Karissa Walker had a solid doubles campaign, winning 17 matches last season.
Bushey had a very successful fall season, including pairing with freshman Christine Abayan to advance to the quarterfinals of the 2005 Wilson/ITA Central Region Doubles Championships. Bushey and Abayan, who finished the fall with an 11-4 record, defeated the tournament's No. 1 seed from BYU in the round of 32 before falling to Megan Bjorkman and Hadley McFarlane of Boise State, 8-4, in the quarters. It was the furthest any Air Force female player or team has advanced at a Division I regional tournament. The pair is also ranked No. 8 in the Central region entering the spring season.
Sophomore Lauren Wilson posted 15 overall victories, including 12 dual matches while switching between the Nos. 3 and 4 positions. She played most her doubles matches with fellow sophomore Erika Shortridge and the pair combined for seven victories. Wilson and Shortridge each went 5-6 during the fall season.
The team's lone junior, Kelly Morgan, had an outstanding fall season. She won seven of her nine singles matches and captured the flight ""D" title at the Scarborough Specialties Open, hosted by Texas Tech. She also placed second in her flight at the USAFA Fall Invitational.
The two freshmen that Gidley brought in this season all have terrific credentials from high school and junior tennis. Abayan, from Murrietta, Calif., was a four-year letterwinner in tennis at Murrietta Valley High School and a four-time first-team all-league selection. She also earned three team MVP honors. In USTA play, Abayan was ranked No. 49 in the Southern California 18-and-under category and reached the round of 16 at the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section for doubles. In addition to playing some great doubles this fall, she led the team with eight singles victories.
Meghan Kiser, from Salt Lake City, Utah, was also a four-year letterwinner at East High School and advanced to the state finals as a sophomore and junior and made it to the semi-finals as a senior. She was ranked No. 13 in the Intermountain Region and No. 188 nationally for the 18-and-under category. Kiser went 7-3 in singles during the fall.
Another tough schedule awaits the Falcons in 2005-06. The fall season was once again dominated with tournaments, including the USAFA Invitational as well as tourneys at Wyoming, Texas Tech and Utah.
The spring campaign opens with three road matches against nationally ranked opponents, Colorado (Jan. 18), Virginia Commonwealth (Jan. 21) and William and Mary (Jan. 22). Three home matches follow, against Northern Arizona, South Dakota and Northern Colorado the weekend of Jan. 28-29.
The Falcons host the annual Gideon Cup match against service-academy rival Army on Saturday, Feb. 18. Army broke AFA's string of five straight victories in the series, winning 5-2 in West Point last spring.
The always tough Mountain West Conference slate begins at home on Saturday, March 4 against Wyoming and the Falcons host Utah (April 13), BYU (April 15) and Colorado State (April 16) before heading to San Diego for the MWC Championships, April 27-29.