As Valparaiso University’s women’s tennis team takes to the court for the 2009 season, head coach Jay Adams returns the nucleus of his team from one year ago. Eight returnees are set to join a pair of freshman for the second year head coach as the Brown and Gold set to embark on a new campaign that features 20 dual matches leading up to the conference championships.
The Crusaders are looking to improve in year two of Horizon League action, while still looking for their first win in the conference. Valpo finished the year just 2-17 overall, but had a solid fall season and will look to improve upon last year’s ninth place finish in the standings.
Kim Sajevic returns at the top of Valpo’s lineup after playing number one singles all of her junior season. The senior tied for the team lead in singles victories in 2007-2008 and added three more wins this fall. Sajevic has 36 wins during her career, the most of any Crusader.
Two other seniors, Jenny Schwartz and Molly Keifer, split time at second singles for the Brown and Gold a year ago, with Keifer also playing some at the third spot. The duo also teamed last year to play at number one doubles for Valpo.
Keifer won once at second singles this fall while Schwartz split a pair of contests at the third spot to begin the year. The duo also picked up a doubles victory in tournament action, playing at the top of the order.
Lindsey Gustafson is the other returning senior for the Crusaders and played a great deal at the fourth spot one year ago. She also played a few matches at the third spot in 2007-2008 after playing no higher than sixth heading into her junior season. She did not see any action this fall while recovering from an injury, but will look to return to the lineup this spring.
Julie Wingstrom won nearly all of her matches at the fifth spot in the Crusader order last season, as Adams returns each of his top five players for the upcoming season. Wingstrom also teamed with Sajevic at number two doubles, leading the team in wins in that category. This fall, the junior added a victory at sixth singles while also registering a pair of doubles triumphs with Sajevic.
Three sophomores also return for the Crusaders after playing their first season of collegiate tennis. Christine Antrobus shared team-high honors with Sajevic in singles victories last year while Jackie O’Reilly mainly played in doubles action. Camill Burden appeared in one match as a rookie and will look for more playing time this season.
Antrobus played fifth and sixth singles this fall, earning a win at the fifth spot. O’Reilly and Burden both saw action in singles play at the IPFW Mastodon Invitational, garnering a win each. The duo also teamed in doubles play this fall.
A pair of freshmen, Katie Bilyeu and Stephanie York will also attempt to break into the Crusader lineup this spring after having solid fall seasons.
Bilyeu played third and fourth singles for the Brown and Gold while getting her first taste of collegiate experience. She notched a win against Saint Joseph’s (Ind.) at home and teamed with York for a pair of doubles triumphs, once at number two doubles and the other at the third spot.
York also was in the lineup for the Brown and Gold this fall, posting a win at number four singles while also seeing time at the third spot. The experience the two freshmen gained this fall should go a long way toward helping the Crusaders as the spring season opens up.
The Crusaders will open up a challenging 2009 spring season on January 31 when the Brown and Gold travel to Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. Following road contests at both Bradley and Ball State, Valpo will open up the home portion of its schedule on February 20 against IUPUI before hosting Oakland two days later, with both matches being played indoors at Matchpoint Tennis Club.
Valpo then heads to Western Michigan before travelling to Florida for four matches as part of the Brown and Gold’s annual spring break training trip. Upon returning north, the Crusaders will open Horizon League play at Butler on March 22. Valpo has five outdoor matches slated for the Valparaiso University Tennis Complex, with the regular season wrapping up on April 19 at home against Detroit. The Horizon League Championships again will take place in Indianapolis April 24 through 26.
With a great deal of experience returning to the Crusader roster for the 2009 season, Valparaiso has the potential to show vast improvement on the tennis courts. As the season begins, the players will all be fighting for positions in the lineup, as Valpo looks to move up the Horizon League standings.