|Thursday, January 27, 2000||
Volume 65, Issue 82
|Cougar tennis heads into Spring season with a new
By Andrew J. Ferraro
Things have changed for the UH Women's tennis program.
A year ago, Stina Mosvold was the head coach and was preparing her team for what could have been a second-consecutive Conference USA Championship.
The Cougars did not win the conference title and finished four games
under .500 (9-13). This came after two consecutive winning seasons and
likewise, two NCAA regional appearances.
Sophomore Kailey Meisinger takes a swing during practice this week. During the Fall, she suffered a shoulder injury that sidelined her for a good portion of the season.
Pin Lim/The Daily Cougar
But those days are over now. Mosvold has moved on and the Cougars are preparing to enter a new era in the 23rd year of the program -- the Jennifer Hyde era.
On Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p.m., Houston will open up its 2000 Spring season with a match against Texas-San Antonio at the UH Varsity Tennis Courts.
It will mark the beginning of a season full of expectations, goals and new beginnings. The match against the Roadrunners is also the first of twenty on the slate for the Cougars.
A year ago, Houston won its first two matches, only to lose seven of its next nine. And while many of the players say that a lack of focus was the culprit for the slow start, Hyde says that things are quite different from last year. Different for the better.
First are their goals. What the team wants to accomplish in Hyde's first year is simple: compete hard and win the Conference USA Championship.
"Our long-term goal for the season is to have conference rings on our hands come May," Hyde said. "And I think in order for that to happen, our biggest battle is going to (be to) stay healthy, because I know that in the past they've had a lot of injuries.
"But there is no doubt in my mind that with the team we have right now, we can attain that long-term season goal," she said.
With UTSA and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in town for the first two matches of the season, the Cougars will be looking for a pair of wins and a competitive niche to put them over the top.
Practice is over, and the 2000 tennis season is set to begin this Saturday when the Cougars face the University of Texas-San Antonio. Sunday, UH welcomes Texas A&M-Chorpus Christi.
"There is no question that these are lesser opponents than, for example, TCU, Texas or Texas A&M, but they are not to be taken lightly. I'm not ever going to minimize any opponent that we have," Hyde said.
"Every match that we play and every opponent we compete against is going to be an opportunity to learn and an opportunity to get better."
One of the things that this season will feature for the Cougars is a chance to see some of their C-USA opponents during the regular season.
On Feb. 20, the Cougars will Travel to New Orleans to face Tulane before squaring off against Marquette in the UTEP Shootout five days later in El Paso.
On March 17, Houston will then travel to Tampa for a match against South Florida in what is a chance to play the Bulls at the site of this year's C-USA Championship Tournament.
Hyde says that not only is it good to see C-USA opposition during the regular season, but it is a chance to make a statement to all the teams in the conference.
"I think those matches are going to be a good opportunity for us to see what is coming in April," Hyde explained. "It's very tough to beat the same team twice, but I think we're going to scare them because we're that good.
"They're going to say, 'Hey, Houston's back!'"
The Cougar roster is more diverse than it has been in quite some time, with four underclassmen, including three freshmen, in the mix for 2000.
Seniors Galina Seliounina and Mette Sigmundstad are returning for their final seasons and should provide the necessary experience for Houston to meet its goals.
Sarah Borwell, Joanna Cunliffe and Erin Miller round out the upper-classmen and will compliment Seliounina and Sigmundstad by adding depth and savoir-faire.
Kailey Meisinger is the lone sophomore on the squad, but did see enough action in 1999 to help lead the three incoming freshmen -- Jen Baccarani, Anne Marie Rapp and Karine Urbin -- in the right direction.
But unlike years past, there is no set lineup entering the spring season. There is nothing set in stone and things can and will change as the year progresses.
Hyde said that there is going to be competition throughout the season not only to play, but to maintain each spot in the lineup.
"The best thing about our lineup is that we've got depth," Hyde said. "There are times when I know I'm going to have trouble making our lineup because we are always going to have people competing for spots.
"Anyone can beat anyone. And if someone earns a spot, they are going
to get it. It's going to come down to who wants it more."
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