The SVSU women’s tennis team is set to begin the fall stretch of their 2017-18 season. The team is coming off its best season in over 16 years, posting a 15-5 record including an undefeated spring season.
The team has had some roster changes with graduating seniors departing.The team has said goodbye to Izabella Izmailova and Ana Pico Garcia, whose roster spots will be filled by incoming freshmen Joanne Gao and Maya Campbell.
Head coach Jenn Boehm acknowledges the holes that the departing seniors left, but she has high expectations for a team that consists of four returning seniors.
“We will certainly miss our two departing seniors, Ana and Izabella, who helped lead our team to the best season in over 16 years,” Boehm said. “We have a lot of talent within our returners, and I am really looking forward to seeing who is ready to take things to the next level. Everyone will need to dig deep and push ourselves to the limits to continue our quest for a GLIAC Championship and NCAA tournament berth.”
Senior Danielle Slonac echoed her coach’s words, focusing on the veteran leadership that is returning to the team.
“With four seniors, we have a lot of experience that we are able to share with the underclassmen, and we strive to lead by example and serve as positive role models,” Slonac said. “All nine of us bring our own unique strengths to the team, and the combination of all our abilities makes us a very strong unit.”
Newcomers Gao and Campbell have both seen success at the high school level. Gao, a native of Novi, won a state championship at No. 3 in singles her sophomore season and was state runner-up her junior season.
From Swartz Creek, Campbell had a decorated high school campaign. She won three Flint Metro League All-Conference honors and won No. 1 singles regional championship her junior season.
Boehm spent the summer with the two and believes they can make a mark in their first season as a Cardinal.
“Maya and Joanne have seen a lot of success at the high school and United States Tennis Association levels,” Boehm said. “They have already been practicing and competing with their teammates over the summer, so we are really hoping to see them make a smooth transition and make a strong impact this Fall.”
Senior Shae Donahue states that the team knows that they can accomplish their goals and preparation during the summer helped.
“After coming off our season last year, our team knew we could do even better,” Donahue said. “We worked on our conditioning, hitting, and even our mental game [during the offseason]. We are looking forward to seeing our team’s progress from this summer.”
The team started their season on the road against Hillsdale College on Sunday, Sept. 10. The Cardinals split the six singles matches with Hillsdale but lost two of three doubles matches.
Donahue played the No. 1 singles spot, defeating her opponent in two sets. Slonac and sophomore Taylor McLaughlin also won their singles matches, each taking two sets to defeat their opponents. Gao and Campbell, along with sophomore Madeline Miller fell in their singles matches. Gao and Campbell won their first collegiate doubles match 9-7.