Jan. 30, 2014
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Each of the past five seasons, the Villanova women's tennis team has improved its win total from the year before. Heading into the 2014 season, the Wildcats believe they have the perfect blend of experience and talent necessary to surpass that mark for the sixth consecutive season.
"Our program has progressively made strides over the past couple of years because of the commitment and effort put in by the leaders of the team," head coach Steve Reiniger said. "With the help of the younger group motivated to make a difference, this program has a chance to become a contender in the conference."
During the 2008 season, Villanova's only victory was a 5-2 triumph over conference rival Georgetown at the Villanova Tennis Complex. The next year, the Wildcats won two matches. They followed with three victories in 2011 and five in 2012.
After starting last season with four straight losses, Villanova made its annual spring break trip to the West Coast and knocked off both Vanguard and Chapman by a score of 7-2. The following week, the Wildcats returned home and took down Bryant, 4-3, en route to their first three-match winning streak since the 2004 season where Villanova achieved that mark twice.
Not only has the recent success on the courts been trending up for the Wildcats, but so has the accomplishments attained in the classroom. Villanova was recognized by the annual Academic Progress Report for a team GPA that ranked within the top-10 percent for all women's tennis programs across the nation. The Wildcats scored a perfect multiyear score of 1000 for their academia efforts in the 2012-13 season.
Villanova returns a plethora of players from last season's squad, including superb freshman Tori Smyth. The Stamford, Conn. native finished 15-10 overall during her freshman campaign with all matches coming from the No. 2 slot.
The leading active player in singles and doubles victories, Mikelle Mancini is back at the No. 1 position for the Wildcats. During the tournament season, the senior team captain finished 4-2 during singles action, including a Singles Championship at the Bucknell Invitational. For her career, Mancini has 29 wins during singles play and 30 doubles victories, all coming from the No. 1 slot.
As for some new faces, freshmen Nicole Coons and Gianna Mitchell will be relied heavily on to make an impact for Villanova in 2014. During the tournament season, Coons went 5-3 during singles action while Mitchell finished 4-3 in singles play. The duo teamed up to go 2-1 as a doubles pair.
If players like Smyth and Mancini continue their dependable play and some of the newcomers can make an immediate impact, Villanova will make a run at their best finish since the 2004 season where they went 8-9 in dual match competiton.
The Wildcats will open the season this weekend when they take on Richmond (0-1) and Navy (3-1) on back-to-back afternoons on the road. Villanova will dual against Richmond Friday at 5 p.m. at the Country Club of Virginia before traveling to Annapolis, Md. for a showdown with Navy, Saturday at 4 p.m.
Be sure to follow the team socially on Twitter @NovaWTennis to stay up to date with the latest news, scores and highlights from the Wildcats.