Fall Season Gets Underway for the Women's Tennis Team on Friday

Sept. 17, 2008

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - With four tournaments on tap for the fall campaign, the UCF women's tennis team continues to prepare for its first event of the season. The Knights will be traveling to Gainesville this weekend for the Florida Gator Fall Classic Friday through Sunday.

Along with a trip to Gainesville, UCF also makes fall treks to the Rollins C.L. Varner Memorial Oct. 10-12, the ITA Southern Regionals in Athens, Ga., Oct. 24-27 and the University of Miami Tournament Nov. 7-9.

While these events will not affect the Knights' overall team record, they will provide the team with plenty of competition to get ready for the dual-match campaign in the spring. That especially holds true since three of UCF's eight players are freshmen, Christy Core (Charlotte, N.C.), Alexis Rodriguez (Boca Raton, Fla.) and Andrea Yacaman (Cartagena, Colombia), and Katie Orletsky (Titusville, Fla.) transferred from Arizona after spending two years with the Wildcats.

"For all of the newcomers, as well as the whole team, it's a good opportunity to get out there and see some top schools and top players right off the bat," said head coach Stephanie Nickitas, who led the Black and Gold to a 12-9 record in her first season in 2007-08. "This will help us know where we stand and where we want to be. With this being our first fall tournament, we're not expecting the highest level of performance, but we're expecting them to go out there and practice the new things we have been working on so far.

"We started strength and conditioning the second day after classes started, then we began official team practices on Sept. 6. We've been working on new doubles skills and trying to figure out some new doubles matchups since we lost one person from each of our doubles teams from last year. We also worked on basic patterns, rhythms, movement and consistency drills."

With key doubles partners such as Kyla McNicol, who did not lose a match over the summer in several Canadian tournaments, Jennifer Carati, and Anna Yakimchenkova all having exhausted their eligibility, Nickitas will have a lot to look at when determining new doubles pairs for 2008-09.

"To find a good doubles team, we have to have people that click well together in terms of personality and communication," said Nickitas, the NCAA doubles champion in 1996 and 1997 at Florida. "That's very important. For style-wise, we look at who likes to play either the forehand or backhand sides. And sometimes contrasting styles work well in doubles. If you have somebody that's a little more solid from the baseline and another who is more aggressive at the net and likes to poach, that combination may work well. So we're just trying to look at everyone individually right now and see how they match up. More than likely we will switch them up in the fall tournaments since we are in the early stages of the season."

Nickitas also hopes that the results her players post this fall will help her determine her lineup when the dual-match schedule kicks in starting Jan. 22 vs. Florida A&M.

"The individual results in these tournaments will play in to the lineup for the spring," acknowledged Nickitas. "There is a certain level of competition we are looking for from the players, and we will focus on their intensity and their drive to succeed."

This weekend's event will not only include UCF and host Florida, but also USF, Kentucky and Notre Dame. Florida finished last season ranked No. 7 in the country, while Notre Dame was at No. 20, Kentucky was at No. 22 and USF sat at No. 41. Most of the Knights will be in action, however senior Kenza Belbacha (Casablanca, Morocco) may sit out due to a sickness.

For the latest news on the Knights, log on to www.UCFAthletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. The site, which also contains ticket and Golden Knights Club donor information, is also the home of UCF's new online apparel store. Also visit www.UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.