MC Women's Tennis Team Begins Season with National Ranking
The team, especially the 5 seniors, sets high expectations for themselves as the 2024 season begins.
Mississippi College’s women’s tennis team is already receiving national recognition as they exit preseason.
The team is entering their second year with their new coach, Michael Ward. Under Coach Ward, the MC women’s tennis team has already started making waves nationally, with a preseason ranking of 24 according to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Collegiate Tennis National Rankings.
The team added new assistant coach, Brady McDaniel, to the roster this year. Coach McDaniel played tennis for MC for five years, including his COVID year.
Since Coach Ward took over, the team went from a 12-7 record in 2022 to a 15-5 record in 2023. The girls’ team went 7-3 in conference, 5-2 at home, and 9-2 away last season. This contributed to the team winning the Most Improved award at the Student Athletic Advisory Committee’s annual all-sports banquet.
As far as personnel changes, the team graduated line 5 player Anna Valiaeva, as well as Ana Didkovskaya. Filling the two girls’ roles are freshman Victoria Garrido and transfer Ana Julissa De Mata. This is the last year of eligibility for four out of the nine girls on the team. Five of the players are seniors.
The team peaked last year with a national ranking of 10 by the ITA Collegiate Tennis National Rankings. During the fall season, partners Elyangelica Alas, a senior from Venezuela, and Fernanda Cota, a senior from Mexico, ranked sixth in the region by the ITA South Region Doubles Poll.
The team is captained by Cota and Emma Roberts, a senior from Jackson, Mississippi.
Roberts says they have been working hard on the track, in the weight room, and at the tennis courts to prepare for the season. Roberts reflected on their last season, stating that it was an extremely competitive one. She expects the girls to perform just as competitively this year. “I expect our team to work together well, support and encourage each other, and really enjoy this season,” Roberts said.
Roberts was excited by the amount of girls they had return from last season. “We have almost the same team, with the addition of two girls we really love, so I’m excited to enjoy the season,” Roberts said. “I think this season will be different because we now have five seniors who this is their last time to play, and they really want to make it count.”
“I expect everyone to give the best for each other, for ourselves, and our team,” Cota agreed. “We’re going for conference, regionals, and nationals.”
Coach McDaniel was equally as optimistic. “I’m expecting us to build on last year,” he said. “We reached as high as #10 in the country last year, and we only graduated two girls.” Like Roberts, Coach McDaniel emphasized the hard work in the gym and on the court to get the team ready for the season.
“I’m most looking forward to having a good last season for our seniors and hopefully sending them out with a championship and a lot of good memories,” McDaniel said.
Both men’s and women’s teams are starting regular season play Feb. 3 at 11 a.m. at Jackson State.
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