ANDERSON, S.C. – After 2013 saw the Anderson University women’s tennis team advance to its first South Atlantic Conference championship match, the Trojans bring in higher expectations in 2014 as they open their season on Saturday against SAC opponent Newberry on Saturday at the Max Grubbs Memorial Courts.
Last Thursday, AU’s duo of senior Avery Owens and junior Karen Ching were honored by the conference, being named to the preseason teams as the tandem was picked to the first-team doubles squad, while Owens was named first-team in singles. Owens is coming into a season where she went a perfect 9-0 in conference singles matches and an impressive 15-2 overall singles record. In doubles, Owens and Ching combined for a 15-4 record playing the majority of the season at the No. 1 position.
As a team, the Trojans were picked to finish third behind Wingate and Tusculum. Anderson closed the 2013 season with a 13-6 record, including four straight wins before falling 5-3 in the championship match at last year’s SAC Tournament.
Along with Owens and Ching, the Trojans look for junior Lindsay Gregory and sophomores Kayla Bishop, Alexandra Ebner and Lauren Howard to step into starting roles and pick up where they left off a year ago. Ebner finished the season 9-9 in doubles action and 4-5 in her nine singles appearances. Head Coach Joey Eskridge is also excited for newcomers Nikkola Wichenko and Rebecca Bruning as they could see a starting role immediately.
Newberry finished the 2013 season with a 13-12 overall record and fell to the eventual conference champion Wingate in the tournament semifinals. The Wolves earned a 5-4 record and closed the year in a tie for fourth-place with Catawba, which they beat in the opening round of the conference tournament, in the final SAC standings. This season, NC is an even 2-2 after grabbing 9-0 wins over North Greenville and Benedict, but falling to Division I Coastal Carolina and nationally ranked Erskine.
The Wolves return Preseason All-SAC first-team singles and doubles honoree Susana Aguirre as she is joined by Romina Adum on the first-team doubles squad. Aguirre, who played the entire season at the No. 1 position, finished 15-9 in singles action and 20-4 in doubles action alongside Adum. This season, the duo is 2-2 for the season.
With five seniors on the roster, Newberry carries a lot of experience into the season. Senior Ariel Strong is projected to start at No. 5 singles where she is 1-1 for the young season and No. 3 doubles, teaming up with sophomore Tara Lamers as they hold a 2-1 doubles record.
Anderson has not dropped a match to Newberry since the teams became SAC rivals before the 2011 season. AU captured a 9-0 sweep over the Wolves in 2011 and followed the win with 6-3 and 5-4 victories in 2012 and 2013.