June 9, 2014
Montana's Haley Driver and Precious Gbadamosi, both of whom concluded their junior seasons last month, have earned year-end region rankings by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, the organization announced last week.
Driver was ranked 15th in singles in the ITA's Mountain Region. She becomes the first player to earn a June singles ranking under coach Steve Ascher, who will be entering his seventh season in 2014-15.
Driver and Gbadamosi, who played No. 1 doubles for the Grizzlies in all 24 of their spring-season matches, earned a No. 10 doubles ranking, giving Ascher's program a June doubles ranking for the third time in four years.
The ITA also produces rankings each January.
Playing mainly No. 1 singles, Driver went 15-8 during the spring. She went a perfect 9-0 in Big Sky Conference matches to win MVP honors and lead Montana to its first regular-season championship.
She became the first non-Sacramento State player to earn MVP honors since 2002 and became Montana's first Big Sky MVP since Vanessa Castellano in 1996 and '97.
Driver, at 14-7 overall and 7-2 in league matches, had a similar record in 2012-13, but she did it mainly playing No. 3 singles.
"The thing that sticks out about Haley this year has been her consistency of performance, day in and day out," said Ascher. "Her practice habits have grown stronger and she spent a lot of time getting herself in peak physical condition so she can play longer points.
"She was also more engaged mentally, especially in our matches outside of conference, and that's where you're going to earn these rankings."
Driver and Gbadamosi went 16-6 together at No. 1 doubles during the spring, with a pair of unfinished matches. They went 8-1 in the Big Sky Conference.
The pair went 14-2 last spring, but that record came while playing No. 3 doubles.
"They played together the year before, but when you make the jump from three doubles to one, every match is played against a good doubles team," Ascher said.
"By the end of the season they had found out where to play and how to work with one another, and that's a big part of doubles. So is communicating with your partner and knowing what each player is doing in each situation. All of that takes time."
Ascher has coached seven different players to an ITA Mountain Region singles or doubles ranking since 2011.
June 2014: Haley Driver (No. 15 singles); Driver/Precious Gbadamosi (No. 10 doubles)
January 2014: Precious Gbadamosi (No. 13 singles)
June 2013: Montana (No. 10 team); Heather Davidson/Laurence Pelchat (No. 10 doubles)
January 2013: Haley Driver (No. 18 singles); Heather Davidson/Laurence Pelchat (No. 10 doubles)
January 2012: Heather Davidson/Laurence Pelchat (No. 3 doubles)
June 2011: Rebecca Bran/Whitney Paluch (No. 9 doubles)
January 2011: Amanda Bran (No. 19 singles); Rebecca Bran/Whitney Paluch (No. 10 doubles)
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