Jan. 30, 2008
Entering his fourth year as the head coach of the Gonzaga University women's tennis team D.J. Gurule is looking towards a mixture of seasoned veterans and a strong incoming recruiting class to lead the Zags into the 2008 season.
The 2008 squad is one of the deepest in the Bulldogs' history, as it features eight veterans and five newcomers.
"Our squad is as deep as it has ever been," commented Gurule. "We have a solid combination of senior leadership, as well as freshman enthusiasm that should equal an outstanding season."
Highlighting the returning senior class is Emily Anderson. Anderson, a two-time All-West Coast Conference selection, has played at the No.1 singles position for the Zags during the past two seasons.
"Emily had a good fall and has developed into a strong leader on and off the court," added Gurule. "She is a consistent performer despite playing in a tough conference like the WCC."
"I'm looking forward to the contributions from Erin, Sydney and Carrie this year," stated Gurule. "All three have fought through injuries and I'm excited for each of them to have a strong impact as seniors."
Joining a talented group of seniors will be juniors Katie Colton, Aglaya Kokurina and Courtney Lau. Kokurina, who transferred to Gonzaga mid-season last year from Michigan State University, led the Bulldogs during the 2007 dual season with a 12-9 singles record en route to an All-WCC accolade.
"Aglaya is a fantastic athlete," Gurule commented. "She has developed into a strong weapon for us. She should compete to be our No. 1 singles after she posted an outstanding fall season with some big wins. She has a strong drive and a good outlook for the season."
The lone sophomore on this years team is Kristen MacWilliam. MacWilliam suffered an injury in the fall of 2007, but returns to the mix this spring.
"Kristen returns to us this year stronger than before," added Gurule. "I expect her to contribute in the middle of our lineup."
The Bulldogs this year will also incorporate one of the best recruiting classes in the program's history. This season's incoming class of five is anchored by a pair from Portland, Ore - Danielle Farmer and Rika Mehndiratta.
Farmer joins the Zags from Grant High, where she was the three-time Portland Interscholastic League Champion and also earned at third-place finish at the state championship. Prior to Gonzaga, she was ranked in the top 15 in the Pacific Northwest region in singles and top five in doubles by the United States Tennis Association.
"Danielle has all the tools needed to be a top ranked player," Gurule said. "She brings a good presence to the court and she will be a strong asset in doubles for us."
Mehndiratta opened the 2007 fall season on a strong note, winning the first nine matches. Her nine-match streak lifted her to the No. 2 singles title at the Cougar Classic, marking the first time a Bulldog has earned a title at the event. In the spring, she is expected to make an immediate impact in the middle of the line-up.
"Rika is one of the best recruits our program has seen," added Gurule. "She has the capability to make a strong run for conference honors and is a fantastic addition to our team."
The Zags will face stiff competition during the 2008 campaign, facing five teams that finished 2007 in the ITA rankings. The ranked foes include San Diego State University, Washington State University, Saint Mary's College, Cal Poly and the University of Washington. In addition to WCC foe Saint Mary's, Loyola Marymount University and Pepperdine University, possible opponents at the conference championship, ended the season listed in the top 75.
The Bulldogs will open the 2008 season Feb. 1 with a dual match against San Diego State in Seattle. Gonzaga opens its home schedule Feb. 20 hosting regional rival Eastern Washington University.