Sports

Staying healthy main issue for Oregon



Ivar Vong

There are some big storylines for both the men and women’s tennis teams this fall. Both wanting to make up for a lackluster 2009 season, the teams have revamped their lineups and are the healthiest they’ve been in years.

On the men’s side seniors Alex Cornelissen, Ric Mortera and Marcos Verdasco are ready to make their senior year the best. All three are coming off some sort of injury that affected their play in 2009. Mortera played through a bad lower back and herniated disc, and Verdasco had knee surgery to fix an injury he aggravated last spring against Washington. Cornelissen, who was the healthiest of the three, also played through various bumps and bruises, and he also got his knee scoped to fix a nagging injury.

Basically, they’re just excited to be 100-percent all at the same time.

“It’s been a huge factor for us,” Mortera said. “I feel in better shape than I’ve been in a long time. I’m absolutely ready to go.”

Nils Schyllander, the men’s head coach, said that his three seniors set the Ducks up to succeed after the team finished on a six-game losing streak.

“We’re excited about Ric, Alex and Marcos being healthy,” Schyllander said. “It’s the first time in a few years that all three are healthy at the same time.”

The Ducks are scheduled to play in five tournaments through the start of November, with the first coming up Oct. 2 in Fresno, Calif. Unlike the spring, where Oregon plays in team matches, the fall is more of an individual competition where everyone can work on improving their own games.

“We’re playing in some tough events,” Schyllander said. “We didn’t want any softies. If the guys see tough competition off the bat, they’ll be that much better in the spring.”

And Mortera and the seniors are ready to lead an experienced group of Ducks.

“It’s my last year,” Mortera said. “I’m ready to go out with a bang, and with a great group of guys and coaches, we hope to make the tournament and make an impact.”

Meanwhile, on the women’s team, the Ducks are going to regroup after finishing No. 64 in the country. There are seven new girls, including two transfers, so for the team it will be more about just getting to know one another at first. The returners, Pavlina Smatova, Siobhan Cavan and Trudie du Toit, will have their work cut out for them to make this new group gel.

“We will have a little leadership returning,” women’s assistant coach Maja Kovacek said. “We are pretty busy from the start of fall tennis, so it’s important that everyone gets to know each other.”

The team also starts Oct. 2, with a trip to the USAFA Invitational in Colorado Springs, Colo. They will continue through the second week in November. For head coach Paul Reber and Kovacek, it provides much-needed time to assess the team.

“We’re bringing them back two weeks early so we can get right to work,” Kovacek said. “We won’t see them in a team setting, but the tournaments will help gauge the girls and improve their games for the spring.”

And although the team is unproven as group, everyone involved thinks that the Ducks will have no problem gelling as a unit when Pac-10 play starts on March 5.

“We’re very much excited for the season,” Kovacek said. “We have great group of girls who are all ready to start their careers as Ducks. They are all going to compete and have an impact right away.”


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