2010 Tennis Preview
Feb. 4, 2010
The University of Houston tennis team has a new look to it this year with four newcomers joining the Cougars. They welcome three freshman, Bryony Hunter from Great Britain, Maja Kazimieruk from Poland and Alexandra Pickerill from Ireland. The Cougars also welcome a transfer from Minnesota, Elena Kazakova, who hails from Russia.
Despite having a very different team this year, head coach John Severance believes the goals still remain very much the same. "The goals are still the same as every year. I want us to have a national ranking week to week and win conference," Severance said. "We need to win consistently and upset a high-ranked team or two. I also want us to make it to the NCAA Tournament."
"Our singles lineup is very new and young as well as different from many years in the past," Severance said. "We do not have as many grinders this year, but we have more shot makers."
Starratt returns for her fourth season, only the second player to finish all four years under Severance, joining departed 08-09 senior Vicky Simpson.
"Neila has just had her best fall in four years, and I expect her to be a leader on and off the court," Severance said. "She is going to have her best spring season this year even after last year when she finished 11-2.
"Joanna continues to improve. I hope to find a spot for her in the lineup where she is a moveable rock."
Junior Laura Ring is hoping to put a variety of injuries from last year behind her and compete regularly in the lineup.
"I hope Laura can stay healthy," Severance said. "If she is able to do this, then she can have a dramatic impact on our lineup."
Severance also believes the four newcomers can immediately take the Cougars forward.
"Bryony has a big game and huge potential," Severance said. "She will set the trend at the No. 1 spot this year.
"Maja is the most well-rounded tennis player. She is a fierce competitor, and we are looking forward to her getting stronger and wiser.
"Elena has a very powerful game, and we are hoping she will be able to get it under control. Alexandra Pickerill needs to continue to work hard and grow as a tennis player to compete in the lineup."
"We are a more dynamic doubles team this year than in the past," Severance said. "We are going to serve and volley at the No. 1 spot and we will be well rounded at the No. 2 spot. The No. 3 spot should be powerful. If we all execute, then we should win quite a few doubles points."
"This year our season is manageable," Severance said. "We have lot of home matches at the start of the season and at the tail end, and we are away a lot in March. We need to play consistently throughout the three months to achieve our goals."
After six home matches open up the season for the Cougars, they then go on the road for the majority of March. The Cougars travel to Mississippi for four road matches against Southern Miss (March 5), New Orleans (March 6), Alcorn (March 6) and Arkansas-Little Rock (March 7). Houston then will compete against new opposition in California, playing Cal-State Bakersfield (March 14), Cal-State Northridge (March 15), Cal-State Fullerton (March 17) and Colorado State (March 18). The Cougars travel straight to Columbia, Mo., to face West Virginia (March 19) and Missouri (March 20).
2010 Conference USA Championships
"It will be the strongest year again for our conference," says Severance. "I expect the private schools to lead the way and the others to try and upset them. We should have seven to 10 nationally ranked teams in the conference, which would be outstanding."