Jan. 17, 2014
RUSTON - The Louisiana Tech tennis team may be going into a new conference with a new head coach, but the nucleus returns to build upon one of the most successful spring seasons in program history.
After beginning last season 1-3, LA Tech reeled off 13 wins in a stretch of 14 matches, including a program-record seven conference wins and its first ever conference tournament win to finish 15-5.
That momentum is something Chad Camper aims to continue this spring.
"This is a close knit team and they have really bought into the direction we are heading as a program," said Camper. "Every coach desires to have a team that works this hard and cares about one another. With a lot of practice and vision, we will reach our goals."
The Lady Techsters turned around this past fall and produced 20 flight finals appearances in four regional tournaments.
In the biggest fall tournament of the season, LA Tech notched victories over SEC players from Mississippi State, LSU, Ole Miss and Auburn.
Leading the pack was last year's Western Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year Joanna Nalborska who is currently ranked No. 15 in the Division I Southern Region singles rankings.
The sophomore settled in at the No. 1 spot in singles by the end of last spring and finished with a team-best 10-3 record this fall.
All-conference sophomores Alexandra Starkova and Manoela Chiacchio return as well. Chiacchio ended 2013 with an 11-match winning streak while only surrendering one set. Starkova was locked in at the No. 2 spot where she went a perfect 10-0 and was selected to the WAC All-Tournament team.
Two freshmen arrived in Marta Sramkova and Jazmin Britos to provide more depth to an already potent team, especially in doubles. The duo partnered up to go 4-1 in the fall, including a flight one championship at the NSU Lady Demon Fall Invite.
With six players either freshmen or sophomores, the lone senior is Melanie Urvoy who brings a ton of leadership and experience which will certainly be needed with the Techsters challenging schedule that features three matches against nationally ranked teams - TCU (30th), SMU (52nd) and Conference USA foe North Texas (60th).
"We have a good, tough schedule," said Camper. "If you can compete against a lot of strong programs, that only makes us a better team. Going over and beyond is what's expected for us to compete nationally and for a conference title. The players have to want it and dig down a little deeper. That will be the difference this season."
The home opener will take place on Feb. 15 with the Lady Techsters taking on both Alcorn State and Grambling State. Other home matches include Jackson State, Stephen F. Austin, Northwestern State and C-USA rival Southern Miss.
Other matches against conference opponents consist of Middle Tennessee, UAB and Florida Atlantic.
It all starts the weekend of Jan. 24-25 with LA Tech travelling to the Sunshine State to battle Florida Gulf Coast and FAU.
For complete coverage of LA Tech Tennis, please follow @LATechTEN on Twitter or visit the official home of Louisiana Tech Athletics at www.LATechSports.com.