Falcons Open Spring Season on Friday at Home Against Colorado
Jan. 20, 2011
The Air Force women's tennis team opens its 2011 spring schedule this weekend with a pair of matches at the Academy. The Falcons host the University of Colorado on Friday, Jan. 21 at 4 p.m., and the University of Denver on Sunday, Jan. 23 at 1 p.m. Both matches will be played on the AFA Indoor Courts and are open to the public.
Head coach Kim Gidley is in her 13th season at Air Force and has a school-record 149 career victories following an impressive 16-12 season last year, the best since her initial season in 1998-99 when AFA went 20-10.
Here is the 2010-11 season preview for the Air Force women's tennis team:
The rebuilding process is nearly finished and after last year's impressive performance, the Air Force women's tennis team will receive higher expectations and expect better results in 2010-11. The Falcons improved from six wins in 2007-08 to 16 last season, the most since 1999, and return five of the top singles players from the spring of 2010.
Add to that nucleus a top recruit and head coach Kim Gidley feels confident about her team continuing to improve this season. Gidley, who enters her 13th campaign at Air Force as the program's all-time leader with 149 victories, hopes her squad can improve on its 16-12 overall and 2-6 league record.
Leading the way are two seniors that have been instrumental in the turnaround the past two seasons. The team's reigning MVP, Christen Monreal, returns after playing 22 matches at the No. 1 singles position in 2010. She won 18 matches overall, falling just short of her third 20-plus win season in singles. She had a solid doubles season as a junior, going 13-4 overall, including a 12-3 dual match record and earning her second straight 20-plus season in doubles. Monreal becomes the only player on the team to have won over 100 matches and four 20-plus winning seasons.
Sarah Cassman also returns for her final season with the Falcons. The two-time ITA Academic All-American and ITA Arthur Ashe Jr. Sportsmanship winner for the Mountain Region won a career-high 25 singles matches last season, the third-highest total on the team, and was 18-10 in dual matches. Cassman was a standout at the Nos. 5 and 6 spots, producing a combined 15-7 record. She is the first Falcon in the Division I era (since 1996) to win at least 20 singles matches in three straight seasons.
Tahlia Smoke is back for her junior campaign. Smoke made history last fall when she became AFA's first female to be nationally ranked in the Division I era, making the rankings at No. 102 after going 5-0 in singles. She finished the season with a 21-12 overall record and was 16-12 in dual matches, most of them at the No. 2 position. Smoke should enter the season with a bunch of confidence after winning the doubles title and finishing third in singles at the ITA Summer Circuit Event held at the Academy in July.
Junior Megumi Voight returns to the team after taking her sophomore season off. The four-star recruit out of Alpharetta, Ga., made an immediate impact in the singles and doubles line-up this fall, winning two flights and being named USFA athlete of the week.
Sophomores Melissa Cecil and Hannah Dake are back after each had a successful inaugural campaign. Cecil posted 28 overall singles victories last season, the most by a Falcon in the Division I era (1996) and the most since Laura Simmons won 31 matches during the 1993-94 season. Cecil, who was named the MWC Player of the Week and the USAFA Athlete of the Week in January, finished the campaign with a 28-12 overall record and was 19-6 in dual matches. She also won 16 doubles matches during her first campaign at AFA.
Dake, meanwhile, finished fourth on the team with 22 singles victories, including a 15-11 dual match record. She also went 14-14 overall in doubles and 13-12 at the No. 1 position. In addition, Dake won the singles championships and paired with Smoke to win the doubles title this past summer at the 2010 ITA Collegiate Summer Circuit event hosted by the Academy.
Joining the team this season is freshman Anastasia Hueffner (Portland, Ore.). A product of Lincoln High School, she led her high school team to the state championship last season as a senior while holding a USTA National Ranking in singles and doubles for the last several years. Hueffner, ranked as high as No. 2 in Oregon and No. 3 in the Pacific Northwest Section, is expected to make a big impact this spring in both the singles and doubles line-ups.
The Falcons played four tournaments this past fall, including the annual USAFA Invitational. Air Force also travelled to Washington State, Harvard and Florida International. The spring campaign begins on Friday, Jan. 21 with a home match against the University of Colorado.
Air Force will host 13 matches this spring, including Mountain West Conference matches against New Mexico (April 16) and TCU (April 17). The MWC Championships will begin on April 27 in Fort Collins, Colo.