Women Netters Begin Preparation For Spring Season

Written by: NMSU Athletic Dept.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - The New Mexico State women's tennis team is back on the courts preparing for the upcoming spring dual match tennis season.

The Aggies began practice on Tuesday, Jan. 15 and are gearing up for their third season in WAC play. NMSU opens up the season with an exhibition match on Jan. 22 against Mexico's Monterrey Tech at the NMSU Tennis center at 11:00 a.m.

New Mexico State, who went 10-14 last year and 3-1 in WAC play, has one of its deepest rosters in recent history as head coach Don Ball has brought in one of the most talented group of recruits in recent years.

"The women have come back from winter break in pretty good shape," Ball said. "The key is that we're looking good so far and the fact that we play Monterrey Tech in an exhibition match helps us a lot.

"A lot of teams bring their kids back earlier, but I think we do it pretty well as we don't tire out as early in the season. We'll play our way into shape early in the year, which really is pretty traditional in college tennis and I'm excited about our team."

Sophomore Sophia Marks (Grantham, England) is the prize of the five newcomers to the team. Marks was enrolled in classes all fall, but was unable to participate in any on the court action until the Aggies' last tournament, the UC-Irvine Invitational, because she wasn't cleared yet by the NCAA.

"Sophia is playing really well and she's excited to be back and playing," Ball said.

Seniors Zeljka Juricek (Zagreb, Croatia) and Anne Fagegaltier (Montreuil, France) provide NMSU with experience at the top of the Aggies lineup. Fagegaltier's 51 career singles victories is the most of any player on the team, while Juricek played the No. 1 position all of last spring for the Aggies.

Junior Paulina Zuniga (Guadalupe, Mexico) has had one of the better first two seasons of any player that Ball has coached. After going 7-5 this past fall in singles play, she now has 48 career victories and she was one of two players who picked up a victory in the 2007 WAC Tennis Championships.

Junior Stephanie Eusebe (Champs sur Marne, France) and freshman Bianca Discordia (Zagreb, Croatia) are two other key pieces of Ball's recruiting class and both had successful fall seasons. Discordia tied for the team lead in fall singles victories with Zuniga at seven while Eusebe finished the fall right behind those two with six wins.

Sophomore Aleksa Costa (Sao Paulo, Brazil) is looking to build on to the end of her 2007 spring season, where she won five out of her last six matches, including a victory in the conference championships. Costa went 6-6 in fall singles action.

Three other Aggies, sophomores Lindsey Green (Farmington, N.M.) and Brenda Bongetta (Sao Paulo, Brazil) along with freshman Alex Rios (Albuquerque, N.M.) figure to be thrown into the mix throughout the season.

In doubles action, the Aggies flirted around with different pairings all fall and the coaches are likely to do so early this fall. Eusebe and Zuniga were the two that stayed together for most of the fall and the duo posted a 6-1 record together.

Eusebe and Zuniga won their doubles flight at the UNM Individual Invitational on Oct. 20 and they were in the championship match at Houston's Cougar Fall Draw, but did not get to play for the title because play was rained out.

Costa and Discordia posted a 4-2 mark together in the fall and they won the flight two doubles championship at the Miner Fall Invitational in the Aggies first fall tournament.

New Mexico State will continue its preparation for the spring over the next week until the Aggies open up the season in Las Vegas, Nev., as the face Weber State (Jan. 25), No. 43 UNLV (Jan. 26) and Pacific (Jan. 27). Last year NMSU opened up the spring against the same three opponents in Las Vegas. Pacific and UNLV both swept the Aggies and New Mexico State defeated Weber State 6-1.