North Texas Daily

Tennis team senses improvement in 2015

Tennis team senses improvement in 2015

Tennis team senses improvement in 2015
January 20
17:09 2015

Alex Lessard / Staff Writer

As the Mean Green tennis team continued its practice on a brisk Thursday morning, senior Kseniya Bardabush hits a forehand from the back left corner right into the net. She hits her racquet fiercely with her right fist out of frustration.

Her next swing was spot-on. She, along with a few other seniors, will look to lead the Mean Green into a strong spring season.

Last year’s team didn’t have a single senior. The two oldest players were Bardabush and Franziska Sprinkmeyer, who were juniors. With everyone more experienced, the team believes it has a chance to contend in Conference USA this season.

“The ship is steady now,” head coach Sujay Lama said. “I feel like everyone knows their roles pretty well. The older ones are leading by example, and the younger ones are following their roles.”

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Hospitality management senior Kseniya Bardabush swings at the ball during practice. Bardabush is from Ukraine and has won two consecutive Sun Belt Conference Championships. Photo Courtesy of Rick Yeatts 

Seven of the eight players from last year’s team have returned and are led by Bardabush and Sprinkmeyer, who went 9-0 last season as a doubles pair.

“When they come, it’s like yin and yang,” said Lama. “They’re very imposing and they both have great net game. That’s different than most of college tennis. Girls like to stay back. These two are very aggressive.”

Lama has turned the program around into a perennial winner during his Mean Green tenure. The team made its first appearance in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s national rankings in 2010, and has remained a top 75 team since.

While the team is grateful to be where it is at this point, it is still hungry for improvement. Junior Agustina Valenzuelasaid she has noticed the camaraderie of the team grow since her first year with the program.tennisweb2

Business junior and Chile native Agustina Valenzuela moments after she struck the ball. Valenzuela’s singles record last semester was 5-6, while her doubles was 5-5. Photo courtesy of Rick Yeatts

“We’ve been with the same girls for three years. I feel that the relationship with the team is getting better, and that’s going to help us win the conference,” said Valenzuela. “The closer we are, the better.”

One of the team’s mottoes is to make every day a masterpiece. The staff emphasizes character and positive intensity on a daily basis to keep the players focused on the long term goals.

“Our goals are to win the conference championship and get to the round of 16 in the NCAAs,” said Bardabush, who has been named All-Conference for three years in a row. “The most important thing for us is to stay healthy and prevent injuries.”

The team’s opening match is today against the No. 24 University of Oklahoma and the team’s first home match will be on Jan. 28 against Stephen F. Austin University.

Featured Image: Illustration by Jake Bowerman – Senior Staff Illustrator

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