FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The Northern Arizona women's tennis team will start its fall season this weekend at the New Mexico State Fall Invite in Las Cruces, N.M. starting on Friday, Sept. 13. Only three players return from last year's team, who had one of the best seasons in Northern Arizona women's tennis history.
"We have a real special group of kids here this year," said head coach Kim Bruno. "The team displays a great work ethic and the level the team cares for each other is at a new high level."
Last season, the Lumberjacks finished second during the regular season of the Big Sky Conference and made it to the semifinals in the Big Sky Tournament. Returning from last year's squad is Johanna Vang, Tatum Rochin and Jordan Denesik.
Vang earned All-Big Sky Honorable Mention after an impressive sophomore season with 13 doubles victories with Hannah Stone. She finished last season with a career-best 13-9 singles record and a 6-3 record in conference play.
Rochin had a great season at the No. 6 position posting a 7-0 record in singles play with a 2-0 record in the Big Sky Conference. The senior from Tucson, Ariz. did not drop a set all season with big wins at Colorado State, North Dakota and Idaho State.
Bruno will look to those girls to lead this young squad to the success built over the recent years.
"Johanna and Tatum have been great leaders so far because they care about the team getting better," said Bruno. "They are going to be the players leading the drills and pushing their teammates during practice so the entire team gets better."
The team adds five new players from all across the world with tons of experience. The team adds Tatum Rochin's sister, Hailey Rochin who had a great high school career in Tucson, Ariz. Bruno adds two transfers to the program in Emelia Box and Sara Spruch. Box comes originally from Nottingham, England and last played at North Texas. Spruch transfers from William Carey and is originally from Dortmund, Germany.
Bruno has been very pleased with the team chemistry so far this preseason with team bonding activities such as spending a day in Sedona hiking with the team and the program is way ahead of community service hours than in past years.
The New Mexico State Fall Invite is one of five tournaments that the Lumberjacks will participate in the fall. All eight players will be traveling this fall as compared to past years when only selected players would have traveled.
"This year we are traveling the whole team because this fall, we are worried about team success," said Bruno. "By the end of the fall season, we want to be at a higher level of play than we are now."