Sept. 23, 2003
The appearance of the 2003-04 Siena Women's Tennis Team will be quite familiar and yet dramatically different than it has the past two and a half years.
Though five of six starters from last year's MAAC finalists return, two key contributors will be missing from the fall line-up. Gone is Siena's all-time greatest tennis player, Nikki Mayer. Mayer, who graduated last May along with classmates Eileen Gallocher and Vicki Dunham, will be taking her skills to The University of Akron where she will continue her education in their MBA program and join her former coach, Tony Fox as a graduate assistant for the women's tennis program. Also missing this fall will be 15-match winner Brooke Fisher. Fisher, last year's Most Improved Player, will be spending the semester studying in Europe as will her teammate, junior Danielle Carpenter.
Returning for the Saints this fall are senior co-captains, Andrea Disponzio (9-6) and Betsy Brookins (9-9) along with co-Rookies of the Year Rali Hristova (17-3) and Denisa Hluchova (17-4). Ready to move back into a starting spot is sophomore Meghan Slenkamp who posted a (7-3) singles record in 2002-03. Other returnees hoping to earn starting positions are sophomores Jenna-Lyn Zaino and Danielle Carr. Junior Anita Pudusseri also rejoins the team after missing last year.
The nine veterans are joined by five rookies. Heading the group is 2002 Empire State Games Gold Medal winner Julia Lebedev and Sugam Langer, a two-time NYS High School Championships qualifier in doubles. Also coming on board are Andi Marcove and Molly Scullin.
This fall's schedule should make for some exciting tennis. Though there is only one home match, the women won't be very far away. The dual match schedule no longer includes the University of Hartford, and Albany has been moved to the spring. However, the addition of Mid American Conference member Buffalo to the schedule will provide a stiff challenge for the Saints when they meet in a tri-match with Binghamton. To complete the fall schedule, the Siena women will again send representatives to the ITA East Championships being held this year in Blacksburg, Virginia. The team is also hoping for a bid to the ECAC Championships played at the National Tennis Center in Flushing, Queens.
Upon the completion of the fall season, the team will again work with Albany's 15-Love Program, helping to bring tennis and academics to the children of the inner city. They will also be holding their Second Annual Apples and Pies Sale, providing healthful snacks for their fellow students during exam time, while raising funds for their upcoming spring break trip south.
The 2003-04 outlook is very bright for the Siena women. The addition of an outstanding freshmen class should help improve upon last year's 17-4 record and give the Saints an opportunity to move even higher in the national rankings. Though the team was very strong in singles during last year's campaign, its performance in doubles left something to be desired. With an expected improvement in doubles play, this year has the makings to be the best ever.