Clarksville, Ark.-The University of the Ozarks men's and women's tennis teams are looking for a break-out year under first-year head coach Shaun Wiseman.
“I am looking forward to a great season for both teams in 2009,” said Wiseman. “They put in the work in the fall season and we should be very competitive this spring,” the Rogers, Arkansas native said.
The women’s squad finished undefeated in the fall posting wins over NCAA I UA-Pine Bluff and a first- time victory over Hendrix College.
The women’s team is led by senior captain Lea Rana. Rana, a Dallas, Texas, native is “looking to build off a good junior year and will be in a position to make her first All-Conference team,” Wiseman said.
“We also have a dynamic freshman in Lauren Jardieu from Arlington (Texas),” Wiseman said. “Lauren has turned a lot of heads with her tennis this past fall and should do very well at the # 3 spot this season,” he continued.
Briar Vona, a junior from, Earth, Texas, will fill the #2 spot in the spring.
“Briar battled a shoulder injury last fall but is now feeling healthy and looking forward to a successful 2009 campaign,” Wiseman said.
Brittany Hein, a senior who hails from Grand Prairie, Texas, will play at #4 for the Lady Eagles. Wiseman said, “she has worked very hard on her game and is expecting to do very well in conference.”
Junior players Lindsey Hanna of Rockwall, Texas and Jennifer Fretwell of Clarksville, will cap off the women’s roster.
“They are the X-factors for us,” Wiseman said. “A lot of times, close matches come down to the #3 doubles team and #5 or #6 singles.”
Keeping the women’s team healthy is a concern for the team, though. “Health is going to be a big factor for us. If everyone stays healthy, this will be a very successful season for the Lady Eagle tennis team,” Wiseman concluded.
On the men’s side, Wiseman expects a veteran team to emerge this season.
“I am very much looking to my seniors to carry us this season,” said Wiseman. Keith Edwards, a 6-3 Grapevine, Texas native and Michael Laws of Mena, will be “instrumental to this year’s ultimate result,” Wiseman said.
The junior class is expected to make a big impact this spring.
“I am also looking to my group of juniors - Brett Spahn, Michael Slider, and Brandon Carlson - to step up and make huge contributions to the team,” Wiseman said. “The men’s x-factor is junior Tyler Wilson. Tyler has shown moments of brilliance so far in my time here. His play in singles and doubles may swing several close matches this season.”
Rounding off the men’s team is senior Huy Do and sophomore Aaron Alderman, who Wiseman hopes will both get some match play this spring.
“This season should prove to be very challenging for the men’s squad with the loss of senior leader James Johnston and former # 1 Tyler Patterson and #2 Kyle Keffer. There is a lot of talent on the team and it will be interesting to see how everyone plays in their new roles,” Wiseman concluded.
By Emalee Pearson, Student Assistant SID