Jan. 17, 2014
BEAUMONT – The Lamar women’s tennis team heads into the season with five freshmen on the roster, and they’ll be thrown into the fire immediately on Saturday as the team sets out for Houston to take on traditional power Rice in the 2014 season-opener.
“I’m very excited to get the season going,” head coach David Wong said. “We’re going to be going up against a very good, very well-coached team in Rice, and it will be a good way of seeing where we are at before going into conference play later this season.”
The international trio of Hanna Elfving, Katya Lapayeva and Anna Spengler are expected to feature in big roles for LU in their first season, combining for 15 wins in the fall season. Nadiya Kulibaba, who has been ranked in the top 25 in her native Ukraine, and Robyn Summers, a Beaumont native, round out the newcomers.
“I’d personally rather play Rice late in the season, but this is the day that worked out best,” Wong revealed. “However, it does give us a chance to evaluate the freshmen in a pressure situation very early in the season, and it will be valuable to us later on.”
Even with five freshmen in the fold, a trio of upperclassmen will round out the squad, including 2013 All-Southland honoree Dariya Dashutina as well as fellow senior Alicia Porte and junior Carolina Masó. Dashutina has 27 career wins since stepping on campus last year, including 11 last spring while competing primarily at the No. 3 position. Porte enters the year with 40+ wins in both singles and doubles play, and Masó, who spent much of last season at the second position, ended her spring season last year with six wins over her final eight matches. She was even better in doubles, going 22-9 over both the fall and the spring campaigns.
This year marks the third consecutive that the Lady Cards have opened the season at Rice. Last season, LU fell to the Owls in 6-1 fashion and will be looking for its first win over Rice under the direction of Wong.