Falcons Open Season at College of Charleston Invite
Sept. 15, 2011
The Air Force women's tennis team opens its 2011-12 campaign this weekend at the College of Charleston Invite in Mt. Pleasant, S.C. Action begins on Friday, Sept. 16 and will conclude on Sunday, Sept 18. Competition will begin each day at 8 a.m. (ET).
Head coach Kim Gidley enters her 14th season as the program's winningest head coach 165 victories. She has led the Falcons to 42 wins the last three years, the most in a three-year span since winning 43 from 2002-04.
The Falcons will send eight players to the tournament, led by senior Tahlia Smoke and junior Melissa Cecil. Joining Air Force and College of Charleston are Jacksonville, North Florida,
For updates throughout the tournament, please check the women's tennis page at www.goairforcefalcons.com.
Here is the 2011-12 season preview:
After producing a pair of 16-win seasons, the Air Force women’s tennis team enters the 2011-12 campaign with expectations as high as they’ve been in a long time. Granted, the loss of the 2011 AFA Female Athlete of the Year (Christen Monreal) and the career leader in singles wins during the Division I era (Sarah Cassman) will hurt, but a solid returning nucleus and a top-notch recruiting class should keep the Falcons on their positive roll.
Head coach Kim Gidley enters her 14th campaign at Air Force as the program’s all-time leader with 165 victories. She has led the Falcons to 42 wins the last three years, the most in a three-year span since winning 43 from 2002-04.
The Falcons will have to continue without two-time team MVP Monreal and Cassman, who graduated last spring after spending four years in the lineup.
Gidley welcomes back five letterwinners from last season and one that sat out the ’10-11 campaign. Leading the way is senior Tahlia Smoke, who paced the team with 15 dual match singles wins and finished second with 24 overall doubles wins last season. She was 9-6 at the No. 3 spot and won all three of her matches at the No. 1 spot, which will be wide open after Monreal occupied it for the past two seasons.
Fellow senior Megumi Voight also returns after posting 17 overall singles wins, including nine at the No. 6 spot, a year ago. She also notched 14 doubles wins, including a 4-0 mark at No. 3 doubles.
Juniors Melissa Cecil and Hannah Dake are back, as is fellow junior Christine Molina, who sat out the 2010-11 season. Cecil backed up her outstanding freshman season (team-high 28 singles wins) with a solid 15-12 overall singles record. She was 14-10 in dual matches, including an impressive 13-6 record at the No. 2 spot. She is one of two returners that won two Mountain West matches last year, winning the No. 2 match against Colorado State and New Mexico, both in three sets. In doubles play, Cecil posted a team-high 25 doubles wins and was 16-10 at the No. 1 spot with Smoke.
Dake, meanwhile, went 9-7 in singles play after sitting out the fall tournament season last year. She split her time between the Nos. 4 and 5 spots and is expected to move up the ladder significantly this season. She also went 12-5 at the No. 3 doubles spot with Cassman and was 16-6 overall.
Molina finished second on the team with 27 singles wins as a freshman two years ago. She was 18-9 in dual matches and played at least one match at all six spots.
Anastasia Hueffner is the lone sophomore on the roster in ’11-12. She was one of only two Falcons (Cassman) to have at least 20 singles and doubles wins last season. She was rock solid at the No. 5 spot, producing an 11-8 record and was the lone Falcon victor in a 6-1 loss to Wyoming, winning the No. 5 match in three sets. Hueffner, who also won the No. 5 match against New Mexico, won 16 doubles matches with Monreal and four with Voight.
The four-person recruiting class is led by Tiffany Tran (Laguna Niguel, Calif.), who is expected to play close to the top of the lineup this season. Tran comes to the Academy with two junior titles to her credit, including the girls 16-and-under US Clay Court championship.
Also joining the Falcon program this season are Marcelli Magday (Arlington, Texas), Ali Preiss (La Canada, Calif.) and Natasha Rizvi (Frisco, Texas). Magday earned a No. 37 ranking in the state of Texas and placed second at the state tournament in each of her four years in high school. Preiss won the Manhattan Beach Junior Open a couple of years ago, while Rizvi played at the prestigious St. Stephen’s Academy in Texas.