Tennis Season Preview

Oct. 24, 2002

The young Washington State tennis team opens the 2002-03 season with six returnees and is looking to reach the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in six seasons.

'We know what it takes to get to the tournament,' WSU Head Coach Cari Groce said. 'We have good players and a raised level of intensity.'

With only one senior on the roster, the Cougars will be counting on the talent of their returning international players. Junior Lorena Arias (Mexico City, Mexico) is expected to lead the Cougars at the No. 1 singles position. She won 20 matches last season, one of four returnees with 20 or more singles victories in 2001-02.

'Lorena is a great player who can play some awesome tennis,' Groce said. 'She is one of our top players and a fantastic team leader.'

Arias teams with sophomore Chris Martinez (San Luis Potosi, Mexico) to form the Cougars' No. 1 doubles team. The Cougar combo is ranked No. 46 in the preseason Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) rankings and looks to add to their 19 career doubles victories. All of the tandem's 19 win came last season, good for third on the single season list and tied for eight on the career list. This fall at the All-American Invite they upset a tough team from Georgia, showing they are a force to reckon with this coming spring.

'They play very well together,' Groce said. 'They come to play every day, and they can compete with the best players in the country.'

The WSU team also returns three Hungarian sophomores who figure to make a big difference for the Cougars this season. Orsolya Sallai (Budapest, Hungary) and Nora Gaal (Szekesfehrvar, Hungary) both won 20 singles matches for the Cougars last season and look forward to more success this year. Left-handed Zsofia Fodor (Pecs, Hungary) posted 13 wins and will see more action this year.

Gaal, who expects to push Arias for the No. 1 singles position in the spring, won nearly 65 percent of her matches last season, second on the team to Fodor. Gaal showed her grit several times last season, including a 6-4, 6-2 win over Nicole Schneider to clinch a 4-3 win for WSU over nationally-ranked BYU.

Junior Zorana Roganovic (Novi Sad, Yugoslavia) returns after 10 singles wins last season. She and Arias are the only Cougars on the roster with two seasons of Pacific-10 tennis under their belts, and her experience will be key for the young team.

'They will be counted on to teach our newer players the ins and outs of college tennis,' Groce said.

Four outstanding newcomers join the six returning Cougars. Freshman Melanie Humphrey (Harpenden, England) joins the WSU tennis squad after a successful club career overseas. Three walk-ons, senior Magda Gradkowska (Mercer Island, Wash.), junior Elspeth Beattie (Kendal, England) and freshman Natalie Dow (East Wenatchee, Wash.) are expected to push the Cougars to new heights and positively impact WSU tennis.

Washington State will host seven dual matches this season, including Pac-10 opponents Washington, Oregon, Arizona State, Arizona, UCLA and UCLA. Also coming to play at the Stadium Way Tennis Center are Hawaii, Long Beach State, and BYU.

With the success of last season combined with the positive outlook of this season, the Cougars look to make noise in the Pac-10 and earn yet another bid in the NCAA Tournament.

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