Jan. 10, 2011
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - The crack of the racket and the shrieking of feet skidding across the court means only one thing: the return of tennis season. With the opening of the 2011 season just days away, the Cal State Northridge tennis team is hoping the new season will be one of historic accomplishments for the Matadors.
As he enters his 14th season at the helm of the Matadors, head coach Gary Victor is eager to begin what should be another successful campaign for CSUN.
"I am very excited to get things started in 2011. We have a unique group of student-athletes who are led by a pair of outstanding seniors and captains," Victor said.
Those two seniors, Brooke Doane and Nina Jaworowski, have been instrumental over their four years at Northridge not only for their play on the court, but also for their leadership and work in the classroom.
"Brooke is playing the best tennis of her career right now. She has the belief, the confidence and leadership to make this a very successful season," Victor said. "Nina's experience has been a huge help to our younger players. She's a hard worker who knows how to win. If our team adopted her toughness and attitude, we could compete with anyone in the nation on any given day."
A 2010 All-Big West First Team singles and doubles selection, Doane owns a 33-27 all-time record in singles action. In doubles action, Doane sports a 50-10 career record, the best winning percentage (.833) in school history.
Jaworoski also enters her final season with Northridge having earned All-Big West singles and doubles honors in 2010. She is 34-23 in her singles career and 35-22 in doubles action.
Among the other returners to Victor's side is junior Nigora Sirojiddinova, who finished a team-best 16-4 in singles action last season. Her .842 winning percentage last year was the fourth-best in school history and she owns career marks of 30-13 in singles and 24-17 in doubles action.
"Nigora has really developed into one of our team leaders. She works hard and gives everything she has in every match," Victor added. "Probably her best trait is that she knows how to win by problem solving. She has the ability to be an outstanding player in our league for the next two years."
Victor also has a lot of confidence in a trio of sophomores he expects to make a leap in their second season. Anna Yang, Maria Pistalu and Ryma Korab all bring tremendous skill and development to Northridge, giving the team excellent depth.
Yang earned All-Big West Doubles First Team honors in 2010 after teaming with Doane to post a 12-6 mark. In singles action, Yang was 11-8 overall. Pistalu also enjoyed an excellent rookie season, finishing 13-4 overall in both singles and doubles play. Finally, although she didn't play in the line-up too much in 2010, Victor is excited about the development of Korab.
"Ryma has really brought a lot of energy and a total commitment to this team. Her development has been phenomenal," Victor said.
Among the newcomers, Victor sees several players capable of not only cracking the line-up, but putting up all-league seasons. Jennifer Sher, a junior transfer from Concordia, posted a 49-9 singles and 37-7 doubles record during her two seasons with the Eagles.
"The addition of Jennifer to our line-up is incredible. She is a terrific compliment to Brooke in doubles and will also challenge for the No.1 spot in singles play," Victor said.
Other newcomers include Sabrina Man-Son-Hing, Lorraine Cheung, Marjani Simmons and BreJohn McCrary. All four had invaluable experiences in the fall season and Victor expects them to all compete for spots in the starting line-up.
"These girls help make us more competitive in the bottom half of our line-up. Sabrina is a disciplined player who really enjoys practice and both she and Lorraine sported near-perfect grades in the classroom, so both really enjoy the competition," Victor added.
A look at the schedule shows that Victor will need all of that depth to navigate what looks to be another tough schedule. In addition to the strength of the Big West, Victor has the Matadors facing nationally ranked opposition in the form of Arizona, Nevada, USC and Dartmouth.
"First of all, the Big West is loaded. It is going to be a tough conference that features a lot of depth on every squad," Victor said. "Going to USC and competing against the Trojans is a privilege. They are one of the best teams and will provide a challenge for us early in the year."
In all, CSUN will play a total of 26 matches in 2010 with 18 coming at Matador Tennis Complex. The team will also take a trip to Hawai'i for four matches in February to allow Doane to compete in front of her hometown fans.
"The trip to Hawai'i is way for our program to honor Brooke for all the work she has put in during her four years at Northridge," Victor said. "It's our way of saying thank you and I know it will be a special trip."
With all the talent surrounding him, Victor has high expectations for the 2011 season. However, he knows the Matadors have to not only meet but exceed those standards in order to reach the goals the team has set.
"People who come out to see us play will get a chance to see some of the best student-athletes in the country," Victor said. "We are a team that fights for every point and to see six matches going on down the line is an exciting spectacle."