AZUSA, Calif.--The Azusa Pacific women’s tennis team is bringing back a veteran lineup for its second season in the Pacific West Conference in 2014 with five players from last year’s starting lineup, including three with at least two years of collegiate experience as starters under their belt.
In their first season in the PacWest, the Cougars went 6-5 against conference opponents, the most notable of which was the Cougars’ first win in program history over Fresno Pacific. The win boosted the team’s record to 13-3, which was the fifth time in the last seven years that the Cougars won at least 13 of their first 16 matches in a season. Azusa Pacific’s season came to an end with a 2-5 loss to Fresno Pacific in the NCCAA semifinals, ending the team’s season with a record of 18-8.
The Cougars will have a very similar look to last year for the new season with 2013’s No. 1 & 2 singles players Emily Harris and Danae Ingwaldson back. Harris will be competing in her fourth season as a Cougar along with senior Kim Koetterheinrich. The pair each have over 80 wins in singles and doubles combined in their first three years.
“We’ve got a good amount of upper classmen, and adding Natalie Johnson to the mix will make us better. This senior group has been so good to coach. It’s just fun to be around them. They want to work hard, and they don’t need any exterior motivation. They’re a very mature group, and they’ve been great to coach, “said head coach Mark Bohren.
Sophomore Lindsey Yeom and senior Samantha Kaneta each return as well after compiling winning seasons in their first season as Cougars. Stephanie Quan, who has a career record of 12-1 in singles, is also returning for her senior season.
Freshman Natalie Johnson will round out the starting lineup. The Fontana native was named the San Gabriel Valley Tribune Player of the Year in her senior season at Wilson HS, and reached the round of 16 in the CIF Playoffs after winning the Valle Vista League Singles title.
The Cougar schedule features 12 opponents that are ranked in the top-30 of the ITA/Division II preseason poll. The Cougars will also take on the top-ranked NCAA III team (Willams), before playing in the PacWest championship tournament in Surprise, Ariz. on April 17-20.
”Our schedule is brutal. We’re playing three of the top-10 Division II teams, and the No. 1 Division III team all before playing in a really tough conference tournament,” said Bohren. “It will make us better in the long run, and I’m excited to watch our seniors have a good year against such good competition. With the caliber of opponents we’ll need everyone to step up in order to have the level of success I anticipate from this group.”
The PacWest has three teams ranked in the Division II top-10, with BYU-Hawaii and Hawai’i Pacific rated at No. 2 and No. 4 respectively.PLAYER CAPSULES
Emily Harris: Harris was named to the second team all-PacWest for her 15-6 mark at No. 1 singles. Harris has tallied 52 career wins in singles play, spending the majority of her first two seasons at No. 3 singles. The Cougars’ captain will remain at the No. 1 singles position for her final season at Azusa Pacific. Harris’ ability to grind out long rallies from the back of the court makes her one of the toughest players to beat in the conference.
Danae Ingwaldson: After battling through a tough schedule as the Cougars’ No. 2 player in her sophomore season, Ingwaldson earned nine victories as a sophomore. In her freshman season, Ingwaldson went 16-5, playing most of the year at No. 5, but also went 3-0 at No. 3. Ingwaldson will play either No. 2 or 3 for the Cougars as she enters her junior season. Her power off the serve and forehand makes her a dangerous opponent for anyone.
Natalie Johnson: Johnson, the only freshman on the team, will look to make an immediate impact for the Cougars this season. In her senior season of high school, was part of the CIF Division V championship team, Wilson HS, as the No. 1 singles player. Johnson’s serve is one of her biggest weapons, and her talent should help the rookie adjust against a difficult 2014 schedule.
Samantha Kaneta: After taking a year off from tennis, Kaneta made a successful return to the courts, putting together an 8-5 season primarily at No. 3 & 4 singles. One of Kaneta’s biggest wins of the season came early against Cal State Los Angeles, coming back from down a set 3-6, 6-4, 10-3 to clinch the Cougars’ seventh win. Kaneta possesses great mental toughness and the ability to manage her errors should bode well in tight matches.
Lindsey Yeom: Yeom notched a 12-5 record in her first season of collegiate tennis, playing as high as No. 3 in the Cougar lineup. However, the bulk of Yeom’s wins came from her 7-1 record at No. 5. Yeom had one of her most dominant performances of her freshman season in the Cougar’ memorable 5-4 win over Fresno Pacific. Yeom only dropped two games en route to a straight-set victory. The sophomore has one of the most reliable backhands on the team, which she can take both up-the-line and cross-court for winners. She matches that with a consistent forehand, making it difficult for opponents to find a hole in her game.
Kim Koetterheinrich: In her three years at Azusa Pacific, Koetterheinrich has bounced all over the lineup. After claiming three wins at No. 1 singles in her freshman season, Koetterheinrich found her niche at No. 6 singles, where she combined for a 15-7 in the last two seasons. At 6-feet tall, Koetterheinrich has the ability to flatten out her shots and end the rally at any point. She also can use her serve to get cheap points in crucial situations.
Stephanie Quan: In her second season with the program, Quan recorded 10 straight wins after dropping her first singles match of the year. She registered an 8-1 mark at No. 5, with a 2-0 record at No. 6. This year she’ll be one of four Cougar seniors.
Bethany Duval: As a sophomore Duval posted an impressive 7-2 record, with each of her seven wins coming after she dropped her first two singles contests. In her two years with the Cougars she’s tabbed an 11-2 singles mark, and this year will have an expanded role as Azusa Pacific enters its second season in the PacWest.