The Saluki women’s tennis team capped off a prosperous fall season with titles in every doubles flight they competed in at the Red Wolf Invitational in Jonesboro, Ark.
Coach Audra Nothwehr said her team had a good stint in the fall, which has fueled its appetite for spring success.
“The girls had a really impressive fall semester, but I have a really good feeling about what they can accomplish in the spring,” she said. “(Spring) is all that they have been talking about.”
After their fall performance, senior Melanie Delsart and junior Anastacia Simons ranked No. 5 regionally and No. 36 nationally in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s rankings, which were released Jan. 3. This is only the second time in SIU history that a doubles duo has been nationally ranked since Vishakha Sheoran and Martina Vianna Ce achieved a No. 68 ranking in 2009.
Delsart also earned her second-straight ITA singles regional ranking with a No. 19 notch.
“Mel and Ana managed to receive the highest honor in doubles or singles tennis here,” Nothwehr said. “I’m very proud of both of them.”
The women haven’t competed since Nov. 4, and they haven’t practiced since winter break began. Senior Jennifer Dien said she has made the most of her hiatus and hopes it pays off come spring.
“I’ve really been working out and keeping in shape, as well as practicing about two hours a day,” she said. “We have high expectations this season, and I’m going to do my best to make sure we accomplish them.”
Although she wants her players to remain on an optimal tennis performance level, Nothwehr said a break from the sport might bode well for her team.
“You do have to take your breaks,” she said. “Tennis is something that we have been pushing to them all year long — day after day, but they are still conditioning and working out.”
Nothwehr said her main goal for the players over break was for them to not get hurt.
“As much progress as our players have made over the season, they won’t be able to help us if they are injured or nursing a lingering one,” she said. “I told them to go home and heal up.”
Since the fall tennis season ended, the women’s tennis team added two recruits for the 2013-14 season. Incoming freshmen Meagan Monaghan and Lauren Hoekstra are qualified and decorated athletes. Hoekstra recorded 109 singles victories at Effingham High School, won the sectional championship twice and is a four-time conference champion.
Nothwehr said Hoekstra is known regionally for her talent and has good pedigree.
“Her mom is a former Saluki and (Meagan) is a pretty strong walk-on talent. She is a pretty big name when you’re talking about Carbondale tennis,” she said.
Monaghan, from Denver, has a 26-1 record at Denver South High School in Colorado—including a 12-0 finish her junior year. She won the city championship in her junior and sophomore seasons. Monaghan also won the 4A Colorado State Championship in her second year.
Nothwehr said strong, smart and keen would best describe the Denver product.
“Her only weakness is her speed and conditioning but that happens to be our strength,” she said. “I really think this team is headed in the right direction for the future.”