Bucknell Women's Tennis Hosts Invitational to Open 2010-11 Campaign
Sept. 16, 2010
LEWISBURG, Pa. - Coming off yet another Patriot League Championship match appearance, Bison women's tennis is now looking toward the future as it opens the fall season this weekend, hosting the three-day Bucknell Invitational at the Varsity Tennis Courts. Play, which will feature opponents from Duquesne, Hofstra, Loyola (Md.) and Mount St. Mary's, begins at 2 p.m. on Friday and continues at 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Back for another turn in 2010-11 are former All-Patriot League selections Lauren Lucido (Woodstock, Md./St. Paul's School for Girls) and Dumitrita Iepuras (Chisinau, Moldova/Germantown Friends Academy). The pair, along with five other returning letterwinners, helped the Bison to a 14-7 record overall last season and led Bucknell to a sixth straight trip to the Patriot League Championship before falling to Army, 4-3.
Below is a more in-depth look at the upcoming season for Bucknell women's tennis:
Bucknell women's tennis continued on its road of success last season, and the Bison see no reason for that to change. A year after claiming 14-7 record overall, including a 4-1 tally in the Patriot League, and advancing to the Patriot League Championship match for the sixth consecutive season, Bucknell is counting on its wealth of experience to keep it at the top of its game.
"We lost a good amount of talent from last year, but I think we're still a very solid and deep team," said Rebecca Helt, who is entering her 14th season as the women's head coach. "We've added three freshmen who have the potential to contribute in that starting six, and we have three seniors in that starting lineup. I think it's going to be a strong squad.
"Having three seniors, there's a high level of experience on the team," Helt continued. "We certainly have learned a lot based on our results over the past three or four years of finishing second. Every year we go into the season with more experience and more confidence. Experience is a strength."
The 2010-11 season will see a changing of the guards at the first singles position with the graduation of the reigning Patriot League Player of the Year Tania Varela, but change is not bad thing for the Bison when they have Lauren Lucido as the replacement. After three seasons, Lucido, who is also one of Bucknell's three captains this year, is ranked in the top six in program annals in singles (64-26), doubles (67-21) and combined (131-47) victories. Despite playing primarily at No. 2 singles, she also holds a 10-1 career record in at the first position. That proven success is reason for the Bison to smile.
"Lucido's definitely going to be our No. 1," said Helt of the three-time All-Patriot League selection. "She had an outstanding year last year, just unbelievable. I see her stepping up into that No. 1 spot and having a very solid year. I think she's looking to chase some records."
Lucido needs 23 singles victories to take over the record from Tanya Sichko, a feat that seems possible after averaging just over 21 wins in her first three years and setting a career-best total of 28 victories as a junior. Although Lucido seems to be the clear choice to take the top spot in the lineup, the remaining starting five are not yet set in stone.
"From there down, we're just going to have to see how it plays out through the fall with the tournaments and see how much people have improved since last year," said Helt. "We'll sort through some positions as the year goes on."
Despite the uncertainty in the early goings, Bucknell knows it can rely on Lucido's fellow seniors and co-captains, Dara Dwojewski and Lauren Rottkamp, to help anchor the team. Like their classmate, Dwojewski and Rottkamp have also broken onto the top-25 lists in victories. Rottkamp, who recorded a career-high 14 wins in singles last year, is tied for 17th in career singles victories with 36, while Dwojewski's name appears among the leaders in career singles (31), doubles (28) and combined (59) wins. Both took their Army opponent to three sets in the Patriot League Championship match last season as well, forcing one of the closest outcomes in league history.
The Bison's junior class of Courtney Casey and Dumitrita Iepuras also brings its fair share of expertise. Iepuras is the more decorated of the two, having been named Second Team All-Patriot League in each of her first two seasons and posting some of the highest wins totals on the squad. The native of Moldova has 46 total singles victories - 23 each year - and last season became more of a doubles threat for the Bison after improving her performance from three wins as a freshman to 18 a year ago.
Casey, who played predominantly at the No. 6 position, finished 10-3 in singles as a sophomore, including a 7-1 mark in dual competition. She also picked up steam in doubles as the year wore on, winning nine of her final 11 matches with former teammate Carlin Calcaterra.
In dual competition last season, Bucknell went 43-17 (.717) as a team in doubles. Guiding the squad to that total was Lucido and Varela, who on top of claiming an 18-2 record together, set the program's single-season mark for longest winning streak (18). Close behind was Iepuras and sophomore Daria Tuzhikova, who teamed up for a 15-5 record in the spring. Tuzhikova ultimately finished her debut campaign with 20 doubles victories, tying her with Varela for second on the team.
A youthful quartet will give Bucknell even more options for the lineup in 2010-11. Sophomore Jennie Ciotti and incoming freshmen Kendyl Green, Elizabeth Morgan and Elena Vidrascu provide even more depth for the Bison.
Bucknell's fall tournament season gets started in a hurry as the Orange and Blue will host the Bucknell Invitational Sept. 17-19. Dual competition will get underway in February, leading off with Pittsburgh, while Patriot League action kicks off at Navy on March 27. The Bison will ultimately play for their seventh trip to the league championship with the Midshipmen hosting the tournament April 22-24 in Annapolis, Md.