Oregon women's tennis season preview
Last year, the Oregon women’s tennis team ended the season with a disappointing 7-15 record (1-9 in the Pac-12 Conference), but with a new coach and promising performances in the fall, this year the Ducks’ future looks brighter.
The coaching change is one of the biggest differences between this year and last. In May, Alison Silverio was named the team’s new head coach after Paul Reber stepped down from the position in April. Reber served as head coach for eight seasons and amassed an overall won-loss record of 77-101.
Silverio will be coming from Georgia Tech, her alma mater, where she served as an assistant coach for four years after winning a national championship and being the NCAA tournament MVP as a player there. The Yellow Jackets also made two NCAA Sweet 16 appearances (2012 and 2013) during her time as coach.
“Alison did an amazing job helping to build our women’s tennis program,” said Georgia Tech head coach Rodney Harmon in a press release. “She did great things as a player, helping to lead Georgia Tech to the NCAA title in 2007. As an assistant coach, she helped bring in top 10 recruiting classes and develop all the players on the team. She will build a very successful program at the University of Oregon.”
Silverio’s recruiting skills are already being shown this season as she’s recently landed two five-star recruits for the Ducks: one a three-time District 10 champion in both doubles and singles, and the other being ranked No. 13 in California and No. 62 nationally.
“I think this year is a lot different with the new coaches,” said sophomore Marlou Kluiving. “It’s really exciting. They give a lot of energy. It’s really intense. It was intense last year as well, but I think it’s more this year. The entire atmosphere was really positive and it creates a good atmosphere.”
Perhaps the higher intensity is paying off, because the team’s fall season was full of strong tournament play at the Riviera/ITA Women’s All-American Championships, WSU Invitational and Bulldog Classic. Although performance was generally good all-around — Oregon finished the Bulldog Classic 21-8 — freshmen Nia Rose and Alyssa Tobita emerged as two new players to watch. The two consistently dominated their matches and even went undefeated in the WSU Invitational, which won them the No. 1 Doubles Division of the tournament.
Regular season games will pick up January 16 with the Indiana Winter Invitational, a four-day tournament hosted at the IU Tennis Center in Bloomington, Indiana. Whether or not momentum from fall will directly translate into their upcoming games remains to be known, but fall did provide the girls with one important thing: confidence.
“I think that due to the tournaments we have more confidence,” said Kluiving. “I think that’s important because you need confidence in order to play good matches.”
Five days after the invitational, Oregon will head to Las Vegas, Nevada to play UNLV for their first individual meet of the season. The last time the two teams played was in late March, and Oregon’s Sofia Hager picked up the only point in what was a 4-1 loss that continued the Ducks’ road-game losing streak. UNLV will be one of the first tests for Oregon to see how they compare to last year.
After UNLV, the Ducks will return back to the Student Tennis Center for a six-game home stand that will go into mid-February before the team regularly switches between home and away until the Pac-12 Championships.
Follow Anne Yilmaz on Twitter @anneyilmaz
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