Feb. 2, 2010
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - With the anticipation of the season-opening match against UC San Diego Saturday growing, the CSUN women's tennis team is prepped and eager to compete against the Tritons to mark a strong beginning for the spring season and continue the run into successful conference play.
"It's an exciting time for us," said CSUN women's tennis head coach Gary Victor. "We have a great energy in terms of everybody being motivated and working hard and wanting to get better. Everyone has big goals and it's a lot of fun to be around this team because of that energy."
The nine member squad, which is lead by three junior captains, Nina Jaworowski, Whitney Paluch and Brooke Doane, will provide a well-rounded mix of leadership, character and talent to help the team reach their goals for the season.
Coach Victor has a unique process of building up his players. Before last season, Victor said he had a feeling Jaworoski was going to perform better than she ever had on the tennis court in a Northridge uniform, and from that point on, last year became known as, "The Year of the Nina." At practice and throughout the season, Victor would repeatedly say, "This is the year of the Nina," and at the conclusion of last year that saying became a reality.
"Nina comes into the year as our top player," coach Victor said. "From what she's done, she's earned it."
Last year, Jaworoski played as the No. 2 seed and was one of the team leaders in singles wins. After finishing 14-8 in singles play, she was named to the All-Big West Singles Second Team. She also posted an 11-11 doubles record, partnered frequently with Nigora Sirojiddinova. Among their biggest wins of the year was defeating conference rivals Long Beach State twice.
Being that it is a new year and a new season, Coach Victor is uttering a new phrase. He believes that this year is "The Year of Whit."
Paulch, who will graduate this year as a junior, plans on showing the Big West Conference that her hard work and commitment has greatly elevated her tennis game. In 2009, her first year as a featured player, she posted a five-match winning streak during the season that saw her record victories over Memphis, Pacific and Columbia.
As a doubles player, Paulch, now partnered with Jaworoski, has blossomed, Victor said. The pair won the Matador Invitational in November, highlighted by a victory in the finals over one of the top 30 teams in the nation.
"My expectations for Whit are to just continue to get better and for her to believe in herself because she never stops, she always works," Victor said.
Rounding out the captains is Doane, a powerful player who has had two impressive seasons and is positioned to make her third year at CSUN her strongest yet.
"Her talent is just unbelievable," coach Victor said. "She may be the most talented athlete we've ever had."
Doane really excels in doubles play. Despite having different playing partners in each of her two seasons, Doane has maintained a consistent, solid play. Last year she finished the doubles season with a 20-2 overall record and an even more impressive 10-0 record in the Big West Conference. She was also named to All-Big West Doubles First Team with partner Evgeniya Vertesheva.
"I've always said that Brooke moves like Barry Sanders (the former Detroit Lions running back)," Coach Victor said. "Barry Sanders had the most incredible balance and Brooke is able to change directions so unbelievably well and has incredibly soft hands. Her eye-hand coordination is like no one I've ever coached and no one I've ever seen in the Big West."
Also back this year are sophomores Sirojiddinova and Amira Massi. In her rookie campaign, Sirojiddinova finished the year with a 14-10 record and a team-best 7-3 mark in conference matches. She also ended the year on quite a roll for CSUN, taking 10 of her final 12 matches of the season, including a pair of singles wins at the Big West Championships.
Massi picked up some invaluable experience, appearing three times for Northridge during her rookie season, facing Arizona State, Arizona and Columbia.
Along with high expectations from the returning players, the Matadors also have a fresh crop of promising new talent. The freshman class consists of Anna Yang, Ryma Korab, Zarina Pisnoy and a member new this spring, Maria Pistalu.
Yang has already had an amazing effect on the team and has been a substantial contributor to the team Victor said. She and Brooke won their first tournament playing together in the fall, the San Diego State Fall Classic, beating teams such from SDSU, Arizona and San Diego.
As preseason wages on, it can only further prepare the team for what they may face during Big West Conference play. The positive attitude and team support of this women's tennis squad should highlight a memorable season.
"I feel like the hard work and the attitude is there, much more so than in the past couple of years," coach Victor said. "I'm excited. There's a youthful exuberance about them that you can't get out of freshmen. They still have that. They get it that. These are exciting times."
Written by Media Relations Intern Jaclyn Rymer