2008 ECU Women's Tennis Preview
Jan. 31, 2008
GREENVILLE, N.C- East Carolina's all-time winningest women's tennis coach will look to continue his success in 2008 as the Lady Pirates open the new campaign Thursday afternoon against High Point.
Tom Morris, who earned his 200th victory late last spring near the end of his ninth season at ECU, has also guided the program to its most successful point in school history after producing the top four single-season win totals in the last five years with a 16-8 mark in 2003, a 17-9 ledger in 2005 and back-to-back school-record 19-9 and 19-10 finishes in 2006 and 2007, respectively.
The Lady Pirates welcome back seven letterwinners from a 2007 squad that matched a program-best by racking up 19 victories in 29 matches last spring. Despite playing with a roster that didn't feature a single senior, Morris' steady hand directed an ECU team which recorded five different win streaks of three matches or more and suffered consecutive setbacks only twice all season.
As East Carolina opens a new campaign, Morris is cautiously optimistic about attaining a similar level of success in 2008, providing his team can handle a challenging schedule.
"We are looking forward to beginning the 2008 season," Morris said. "We have another very difficult schedule with many matches in a smaller time frame as we are beginning our spring season later than past years. I thought we had a great season last spring, so we face the task of living up to those expectations as well as the challenge of welcoming four new players who will undoubtedly impact our lineup and playing positions."
With five returning seniors who have all contributed significantly in building the program to unprecedented heights, Morris will rely heavily on their experience and leadership to guide the Pirates in 2008 to perhaps loftier levels.
"In the past three seasons, Alex Smith, Zandy Overcash, Hannah Priest, Luiza Borges and Mireia Gol have all played critical roles in moving ECU Women's Tennis into a very solid program," Morris added. "We have won more matches than in any other three-year period in our history, so we've been incredibly fortunate to have had these players in our program."
Morris would like nothing more than to have these seniors end their college careers with an opportunity to make the program's first NCAA Division I Regional appearance.
Gol (18-4) and Borges (15-11), who finished last spring as the leading and second-leading singles match winners, are expected to lead the Lady Pirates in 2008. Needless to say, Morris is expecting another strong repeat performance from both standouts.
"Luiza had another great fall, losing only once in nine matches during three tournaments and I expect this spring to be another good one for her," Morris commented. "Mireia has had the best record on the team for the past three seasons and we'll count on her as we have in the past."
As the five seniors look to complete their final season with the Lady Pirates, four newcomers are just beginning their journey. East Carolina will welcome freshmen Sheelah Iyengar, Jessica Cook, Kristin Gordon and Tamara Sachs to the squad for their first spring dual match campaign.
"I was happy with the progress all four made in the fall," Morris said. "I thought they worked awful hard and improved their game so I expect them to play a large part of this season's record."
Along with the five returning seniors and the four high-impact newcomers, ECU should also benefit by the return of another pair of double-digit winners from a year ago - junior Varinia Soler (14-13) and sophomore Brooke Walter (15-10).
"We had a solid fall in terms of hard work and improvement," Morris summed up. "We will need to continue the level of dedication and discipline we have shown so far this year to guarantee a strong spring,"
Schedule note: The men's and women's tennis matches against High Point, originally scheduled for Feb. 1, were moved up to Thursday because of the forecast of inclement weather Friday. In addition, both matches have been relocated to the River Birch Tennis Center on Arlington Drive due to delays in the resurfacing process at the ECU Tennis Complex on campus. The men's team (1-2) opened its season Jan. 18-19 at the Virginia Commonwealth Invitational.