FGCU Women's Tennis Team Opens Season
FORT MYERS, FL – The Florida Gulf Coast University women’s tennis season opens this weekend with a dual match Saturday afternoon at Lynn University and on Sunday at noon at Saint Leo.
The home season for the Eagles begins next Tuesday, February 8 with a dual match at the FGCU Tennis Complex against Embry Riddle.
The matches mark the beginning of a 22-match, 10-week regular season for FGCU, culminating with the NCAA Division II tournament in April. The Eagles will host 17 matches at the FGCU Tennis Complex.
Reaching the NCAA tournament will not be an easy task, despite starting the season ranked 38th in Division II. FGCU will challenge seven of the top 20 nationally-ranked teams in Division II, including three of the top five in the last Intercollegiate Tennis Association Division II poll.
The schedule includes key regional matches at #3 Lynn, #5 Rollins and #20 Florida Southern and home matches with #2 Armstrong Atlantic and #13 Barry plus Division I foe Seton Hall.
The Eagles, led by fifth-year head coach Fred Drilling, have posted four consecutive winning seasons and finished 14-9 in 2004. This is the first season that FGCU is eligible for NCAA post-season competition.
2005 FGCU Women’s Tennis Outlook
The hopes are again high as the Eagles head into the 2005 opener. FGCU returns four of its top six players from last year’s team, but Coach Drilling says the team must work to overcome the loss of the top two singles players to graduation.
“We might not be as strong at the top half of the lineup,” said Drilling, “but we have improved the overall strength of our team and should do well in the lower half of the lineup. We have a lot of good competition as we decide our final lineup.”
Teams are required to post a .500 winning percentage or better against Division II competition to be considered for a NCAA tournament invitation. Drilling feels the strong schedule can only provide positive returns for his young team.
“The better the teams are that we play, the more we will improve,” said Drilling. “We will need to beat the non-ranked teams and compete well with the ranked teams to be in line for an opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament. We have some good, young players that we think will only get better with experience.”
The Eagles have eight returning players in the mix including returning starters in seniors Angie Mykieta (Bremen, Germany) and Izzy Ciesinska (Mississauga, Ontario), plus sophomores Jessica Atkinson (St. Lucia) and Lori Colby (Sarasota, FL).
Ciesinska is the top returnee, playing mostly at #3 singles last year as well as #2 doubles. Mykieta played at #4 singles and teamed with Ciesinska in doubles. Atkinson played at #5 singles while Colby was at #6 singles. Atkinson and Colby also teamed up as the #3 doubles team.
There are four other returning players for the Eagles. Senior Tenille Elias (Trinidad), junior Kristin Foelgner (St. Petersburg, FL), and sophomores Krista Polulak (Bradenton, FL) and Kristina Caputo (Englewood, FL) are unproven but could contribute with additional improvement.
The promising group of newcomers includes sophomore transfer Jonalea Hileman (Fort Worth, TX/Texas Christian) along with freshman Maria Testa Maggiorini (Buenos Aires), Lesley Anne Passolt (Plymouth, MN), and Brett Kinley (Delray Beach, FL).
Competition has been strong in the preseason for both the six singles positions and three doubles teams in the lineups.
“We have been practicing well,” said Drilling. “The returning players are working hard and the newcomers are challenging for positions. We are happy with our results the past few seasons and hopefully we can compete well enough to return to the national top-20.”