Women's tennis gears up for tough non-conference opponents
Jan. 23, 2014
The Montana Grizzly women's tennis team is hard at work preparing for a challenging non-conference schedule.
The Grizzlies host Washington State and Minnesota next weekend at the Peak in Missoula, before traveling to Spokane, Wash. to battle Gonzaga on Feb. 9.
"It's exciting for the university and the community to be able to see top-notch college tennis," Ascher said. "To have that caliber of tennis to come to Montana is exciting."
The Grizzlies have some high caliber tennis stars of their own. Ashley Mackey and Maddy Murray are the team's lone seniors, while regionally-ranked Precious Gbadamosi is one of four juniors on Ascher's roster. The Intercollegiate Tennis Association, which ranks the top 20 players from 12 different regions across the country, recently listed Gbadamosi No. 13 in the Mountain Region -- an area spanning seven states and a portion of Arizona.
Mackey posted a 19-12 singles record in the 2012-13 season, 18 match wins the year before, and 14 wins her freshman season. The California native says her emotions are mixed with excitement and anticipation heading into her final spring season.
"I'm excited because I feel like I get to showcase everything I've learned playing tennis since I was 10," Mackey said. "And the team gets to showcase our improvements we've made."
Mackey and Gbadamosi defeated players from No. 50 UNLV in straight sets last fall at the ITA Mountain Regional in Las Vegas. Montana tennis players faced opponents from universities including BYU, Wyoming, Utah and Denver.
If last fall's rugged non-conference slate is any indication, Montana will be up to the task next weekend when the Cougars and Golden Gophers come to the Missoula Valley.
"We saw some great players in the fall," Mackey added. "It's the first time, that I've been here, that we're hosting so many matches early on in the season."
The newest addition to the squad is a freshman who comes all the way from Valencia, Spain. Anabel Carbo Estruch arrived recently to join the team for the spring season.
"We're excited to have her aboard," Ascher said. "We're kind of turning a corner bringing in a little bit more international influence.
"She's super positive, and she's excited to be here at the university, ready to play some tennis."
Ascher said the team is working on a myriad of different things in practice, but the main goal is just gearing up for when Washington State comes to town.
"This is something we work for -- to bring the program up on a national stage," Ascher added. "We've done a good job of raising the level of our team and the Big Sky Conference. You never want to become complacent. We hit the regional stage last year as far as a ranking, and we want to work hard and position ourselves for a national ranking as a team."
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