LEWISBURG, Pa. – After a fall filled with impressive play and a winter packed with productive training, the Bucknell women’s tennis team, which was picked to finish fourth in the recently released Patriot League preseason poll, will open up its spring season on Saturday with a 2 p.m. match against No. 49 Penn State at the Penn State Indoor Center. The two squads have met on 14 different occasions, most recently squaring off in 2011, and the Nittany Lions have triumphed each time.

“This is a very big match for us to play so early in the season,” said head tennis coach and coordinator of tennis Rebecca Helt. “For that reason, our goals and expectations for this match are a bit different than what they will be for our mid-season matches. We will be focusing on high percentage execution and a strong, positive mental attitude to open this season at Penn State. Over the next several weeks we'll focus on our conditioning and gradually elevate our level of execution. Timing and confidence are everything in this sport, and we just want to go into Saturday's match being realistic about where we are this early in the season.”

Four different Bison recorded eight singles wins in tournament play in the fall, led by freshman Stephanie Pino’s 8-1 record. Sophomore Maria Cioffi (8-3), freshman Jorie Fox (8-2) and freshman Michele Urbinati (8-2) all experienced considerable success as well. Cioffi led the way in doubles play for the Bison, compiling a 10-1 record over the course of the fall season. The sophomore earned four wins with Urbinati and six with senior Elena Vidrascu. Two other doubles teams finished the fall with 6-2 records, as the duos of junior Lydia Colvin/Pino and freshman Melissa Parks/Fox both earned some impressive triumphs.  

Bucknell claimed ten flight wins in its first three tournaments, led by Urbinati and Pino, who each took home a trio of triumphs.  Urbinati earned two titles in singles play and one in doubles with Vidrascu, while Pino triumphed with Colvin in doubles action and also earned two singles wins of her own.

The Bison also continued to rewrite the program’s record book with their success in the fall, as Vidrascu climbed up the all-time list in both singles and doubles wins. The senior currently ranks seventh with 55 doubles wins and is tied for 12th with 48 singles wins. Cioffi and Colvin both earned spots on the all-time lists in doubles wins and combined victories as well.

After Saturday’s match against the Nittany Lions, the Bison will return to training for two weeks before taking to the tennis courts for their first home match of the season. The squad will host St. Francis (Pa.) at the West Branch Tennis Club in Williamsport, Pa. on Saturday, Feb.1, with action set to begin at 1 p.m.