Event: Big West Conference Championships
Where: Indian Wells Tennis Garden – Indian Wells, Calif.
When: Friday through Sunday, all day
Who to watch: Playing on a roster that boasts three starting freshman, junior Dahra Zamudio will be expected to provide leadership and motivation.
“She’s a kind competitor … who has an effect on the team,” said coach Bill Maze. “She will rise to the occasion.”
Did you know? With temperatures expected to be in the 90s, the Aggies will need to stay hydrated.
Assistant coach Randi Schulzer is confident the team is well-conditioned enough to outlast the elements.
Preview: The UC Davis women’s tennis team is heading to the Big West Conference Tournament as a No. 3 seed – the highest they’ve ever received.
On Friday, the Aggies will face off against the No. 6 seeded Anteaters of UC Irvine, the reigning champions of the tournament.
“We are definitely looking forward to the Irvine match,” Maze said. “If we play well, we’ve got a good shot, for sure.”
Maze has reason to be confident, as his team beat UC Irvine earlier this year.
“We beat them a couple months ago but that was different. Their roster is different [now] and our roster is different,” he said. “Our lineup is stronger now than before.”
For UC Davis, the postseason lineup will include three freshmen, two sophomores and one junior.
Freshman Megan Heneghan will continue to play in the number one singles spot, with freshman Kelly Chui behind her at number two. Zamudio gets the nod at three, and Ellie Edles will play at number four. Rounding out the top six will be Nicole Koehly and Lauren Curry, respectively.
It is a young squad by any measure, but after a long season the coaching staff is confident that the team is ready.
“I think experience will play a big part in this tournament,” Schuler said. “But it’s really going to come down to motivation.”
With a No. 3 seed, the Aggies feel they have a legitimate title shot.
“It’s extremely competitive and all the teams are really close this year,” Edles said. “It’s kind of anyone’s game right now.”
If the team is able to make it through the first round, it will face a possible rematch with rival Cal Poly. Less than a month ago, the Mustangs handed the Aggies their first conference loss of the year. The Mustangs hold the No. 2 seed in the tournament.
“I’d love to play [the Mustangs],” Maze said. “But we just want to focus on the Anteaters. The pressure would be off, though.”
That the coach’s competitive nature comes out is not surprising, considering the stakes. Still, the Aggies must adopt a one-game-at-a-time mentality, insists Maze.
“Just play within yourself. I think our players are good at that, so we’ll be okay,” he said.
– Caelum Shove