A young Valparaiso University women’s tennis team will take to the courts this fall on six different dates as the Crusaders begin to build for their spring championship season.
Head coach Traci Young returns five players from last year’s squad and has added the addition of a pair of talented freshmen who will look to break into the lineup during their rookie season.
Led by just one senior and two juniors, the Crusaders will rely on the underclassmen to play a key role in this season’s success. Jackie O’Reilly, the team’s lone senior, played at the fifth spot for the Brown and Gold during her junior season and led Valpo in both singles and doubles victories. She will be called upon again to play an instrumental role in the lineup this year.
Juniors Katie Bilyeu and Stephanie York both have had solid starts to their collegiate careers as well. Bilyeu played at the third stop last year, but played as high as number two singles as a freshman, and will ago play towards the top of the order this season. York played at fourth singles for the Brown and Gold a year ago. She shared the team’s top honors in doubles victories in 2009-2010 as well with O’Reilly.
Brittany O’Reilly, a sophomore, played near the top of the lineup in her rookie season with the Crusaders and will look to lead Valpo again this year. She played three matches at the top spot while playing mostly at number two singles as a freshman. The other sophomore on the roster, Stephanie Krebs, got a taste of collegiate tennis in her first year, playing in five dual matches, three of which were at number six singles. She also competed in one tournament for Valpo as a freshman.
Freshmen Shea Hennessy and Kristin Zakiewicz both look to break into the lineup this season for the Crusaders. Hennessy played for four seasons at Marist High School in Palos Park, Ill. Zakiewicz was a four time All-Northern Lakes Conference selection at Northridge High School in Bristol, Ind., and was the conference champion as a senior.
The Crusaders will host Goshen in a dual match on Sept. 8 to begin the fall season before heading to the River Forest Tournament on Sept. 17 and 18. Valpo will host an alumni tournament on Sept. 25 in conjunction with Homecoming weekend before heading to tournaments at IPFW and Western Illinois the following two weekends. The fall schedule will conclude Oct. 16 with a dual match at Robert Morris (Ill.).