News Item - Sports - Intercollegiate Athletics at Penn State Altoona
2014 Women's Tennis Season Preview
8/28/2014 — Penn State Altoona women’s tennis posted one of its finest seasons in recent history last fall. The team’s seven overall wins were its most since 2004, and its total of five wins against Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference opponents was its highest since 2009. Entering the 2014 season, the Lady Lions return four of the six regulars from last season’s lineup, and head coach Doug Simmons is excited about his team’s prospects of building upon last year’s accomplishments.
“I am extremely excited for the tennis program this year. It’s nice to know how your lineup is going to play out for the most part,” explained Simmons, who is heading into his second year as the women’s tennis head coach. “I’m very optimistic about this season. It can be difficult when you lose players so often, so I think we’re primed for success this year.”
The Lady Lions’ top returner is last year’s No. 1, sophomore Michelle Colucci (Middletown, NJ/St. John Vianney). Colucci earned a spot on the AMCC’s All-Conference Team in both No. 1 singles and doubles, posting overall records of 8-3 and 7-3 in those respective flights. Her eight wins in singles matches tied for second-most in a single season in program history.
“Michelle is extremely motivated and competitive. I have no doubt that she will continue to improve,” said Simmons. “I know that she worked on her groundstrokes a lot over the summer. I honestly believe that she is the best player in our conference, and I expect huge things from her this season.”
Junior Olivia Brown (Camp Hill, PA/Cedar Cliff) and sophomores Taryn Kramer (Ligonier, PA/Bishop McCort) and Christina Thompson (Baltimore, MD/Mercy) also return from last year’s squad. The trio combined for 15 singles wins and 15 doubles victories in 2013, and Simmons sees them continuing to be steady contributors for his team.
“Olivia improved a lot over the course of last season, and I expect her to be an integral part of our success this season. Taryn is a counter-puncher who looks to be more consistent than her opponent, and she’s a great athlete who I expect to play in the lineup, as well,” Simmons said. “Christina played No. 2 last season and had a great first year. She has a ton of potential and just needs to learn how to construct points a little better.”
In addition to two other returners, junior Kayla Shriver (Martinsburg, PA/Martinsburg Central) and sophomore Rebecca Balchunas (Reading, PA/Wilson), the roster also features three newcomers: sophomore Madison Caplan (Devon, PA/Conestoga) and freshmen Elizabeth Lane (Pittsburgh, PA/Baldwin) and Regina Sanchez (Atizapan de Zaragoza, MX/IMG Academy).
“I am excited about our newcomers,” said Simmons. “Our most highly-touted prospect is Regina, but I think that any of our newcomers could step in and play right away.”
With many of his best players from last season returning, as well as receiving an infusion of new talent to the roster, Simmons thinks that his team can make a big splash in the conference this fall.
“I expect us to have a great season,” he said. “My goal is to win the AMCC, and I think we are capable of that. If our team improves over the course of the season, I think we have a real shot.”
Penn State Altoona women’s tennis opens its 2014 schedule at home on Saturday, August 30 with a tri-match against non-conference foes Clarion University and Geneva College, with play beginning at 10:00 AM. The Lady Lions’ first AMCC match is also a home competition, as the team will host Mount Aloysius College on Friday, September 5 at 4:00 PM.
Photo: Sophomore Michelle Colucci is Penn State Altoona's top returning player from last year's team.
TAGS: women's tennis