If you were to compare the Oregon women’s tennis rosters from this season and last season, you would notice very few similarities.
The Ducks return only three players from last season and welcome in five new faces.
Juniors Pavlina Smatova and Siobhan Cavan and sophomore Trudie du Toit round out the Duck returners, while freshmen Mahdi Besovic, Sabine Fuchs, Molly McDevitt, Julia Metzger and junior transfer Emmanuelle Cor will look to contribute in their first seasons in
“I think we’re getting better with every practice that we have,” head coach Paul Reber said. “They are really buying into the system we have here.”
With only eight women on the roster, the Ducks still have one scholarship to give out, but Reber feels that if he does not find the right fit, then the team will stay at the size it is now.
And what the team may lack in collegiate experience, it definitely makes up for with its confidence.
“Everybody is looking great so far,” Smatova said. “We are all working hard but having fun at the same time.”
The Ducks have participated in only one tournament so far this fall — the USAFA Invitational in Colorado — and had an impressive first showing. Smavota and Metzger both reached the championship match in their respective brackets, with Smatova going down in two sets: 6-7 (4-7), 3-6, and Metzger losing 3-6, 6-2, 5-7.
In doubles play, Smatova and Cor came away with the first-place title in their bracket as they won three straight matches to clinch the victory. The pairing of Fuchs and du Toit posted a 3-1 record to finish fifth in the top division.
“It may be a cliche to say, but dynamite comes in small packages,” du Toit said. “We may only have eight girls on the team this year, but we are all very hard workers and I cannot begin to express how excited I am for this upcoming season with the team we have.”
Similar to last season, the Ducks will feature a handful of women from all over the world. Fuchs, McDevitt, and Metzger hail from the United States, while Cavan (New Zealand), Besovic (Bosnia/Herzegovia), Cor (France), du Toit (British Columbia), and Smatova (Czech Republic) all come from other places around the globe.
While the majority of the brief fall season is spent preparing for the spring season, the team has still set several goals they hope to achieve.
“We are almost a completely new team this year,” du Toit said. “The improvements we have already made in only a few weeks has me all the more excited for the upcoming season.”
Academically, each member of the team also hopes to maintain a 3.0 GPA.
Tennis, like many other sports here at Oregon, basically runs year-round, with a few opening tournaments in early October followed by a few more throughout November. Once January hits, the team will play multiple times a week until the end of April.
With a schedule that lasts more than seven months, avoiding injuries is something that is constantly a factor. But luckily for the Ducks, they have been able to sidestep that land
mine throughout the first several weeks.
“All of us are improving every single day,” Smatova said. “We have almost no injuries on the team, and we all did very well at our first tournament.”
If this group of young women is able to continue on the path it has started, then it could very well be a big year for a program that will be looking to start fresh after losing 10 of their last 12 matches last spring.