Jan. 18, 2007
Los Angeles, CA (Jan. 18) - It has become an annual expectation for the Loyola Marymount women's tennis program. The Lions have been ranked No. 68 in the first poll of the spring 2007 season by the Fila Collegiate Tennis Rankings administered by the ITA. Since 2000, LMU has held an NCAA National Ranking in six of the last eight years.
The Lions are coming off a second place finish in the 2006 season and return several key pieces from last year's team. "The No. 68 ranking is an acknowledgement of the respect that LMU tennis has established over the last few years," said Head Coach Jamie Sanchez, who is in his 32nd year at the helm of the Lions. "We have established ourselves as one of the top 75 teams in the nation among the more than 300 teams in Division I tennis."
For the Lions, there spring season will begin with the Cal State Los Angeles Tournament on Feb. 2-3. The Lions seven freshmen will be the featured players in the tournament as Sanchez hopes to get his young squad as much playing experience as possible.
"Our task ahead of us is to combine the chemistry of four seniors, three junior and seven freshmen and develop them into a seasoned team from the top of the line-up to the last position on the team," said Sanchez. "Most of the returning players have experience at the top of the line-up. The new players will have to step-up and become seasons Division I competitors as the season progresses."
The Lions experienced players of All-WCC performers Pavla Mesterova and Robyn Baker will lead LMU into another loaded spring schedule. Mesterova, although no ranked in the latest poll due to not enough recorded results, remains one of the top-100 players in all collegiate tennis after earning a singles title at the Saint Mary's Invitational, here second straight at that tournament.
"As our players develop and improve it will fill spots throughout the line-up. This will solidify the depth necessary to be a competitor within the nationally ranked teams and give us stability to compete and move up the ranking list," said Sanchez. "If anything, our schedule demands it."
According to the Jan. 9 rankings released by ITA, 10 of the Lions dual opponents this spring are among the top-75. The Lions first dual meet of the season is on Feb. 8 at Cal State Fullerton. Two days later the Lions venture into the ranked opponents with a trip to No. 73 UC Santa Barbara on Feb. 10.
LMU will open play at the LMU Tennis Center on Feb. 16 with the annual rivalry meeting against No. 14 Pepperdine at 1:30 p.m.. The Waves are the second highest ranked opponent on the Lions schedule, second only to No. 11 Cal, who the Lions play on Mar. 11 in Berkeley.
The remaining eight ranked teams include at WCC rival and 57th ranked San Diego two days after the Waves on Feb. 18, at No. 15 UCLA on Feb. 21 to conclude a stretch of four straight against ranked opponents. The Lions will also face No. 39 San Diego State at home on March 17, No. 63 Sacramento State at home March 25, No. 27 Long Beach State at home on March 28, No. 55 UC Irvine on the road on April 5 and No. 21 Fresno State on the road on April 14.
"Our opening stretch of competition will help us prepare for the rigors of conference play," said Sanchez. The two back-to-back matches against Pepperdine and San Diego will be deja vu for us. These were the last two teams we played at the end of the year in the WCC tournament. It will be good exposure for us early.