Panthers look for a strong start as the 2014 tennis season begins

Isaias Fernandez/ Contributing Writer

 

After a fairly good 11-7 season last year, the lady Panthers Tennis Team is eager to get back on the court. The Panthers are coming off their best season, but they are hungry for more.

The Panthers finished strong at the end of the regular season, winning seven of their last ten, including wins against conference foes Alabama-Birmingham and Florida Atlantic. In the end, they came up short in the Conference USA Championship with a 4-0 loss against the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles.

This year, the team wants to bounce back and prove that it can win in conference tournaments. With only three of the seven players from last year coming back for the 2014 season, it is not going to be easy. This means that new Panthers will have to come in and step up their game.

The team will definitely miss its star player from last year, Giulietta Boha, who finished her senior year with an exceptional 25-4 season. Boha finished the season winning her last six matches and definitely gave the team a humongous boost.

Valentina Briceno will return as a sophomore after a rather unimpressive freshman season. She went 4-16 and she ended the season with 4 straight losses. Now that she has her freshman season behind her, she can focus on improving and playing at a high level.

Sophomore Nina Nagode is looking to better her play after a good freshman season. Nagode went 16-11 in the 2014 season, but what was most impressive was her composure in conference play where she went undefeated.

Kaitlin Brozovich from Bowling Green and Yana Koroleva from Clemson look to spark up the team as transfer students. They are looking for new opportunities and better chances to succeed here at FIU.

The team will consist of two true freshmen in Nerma Caluk from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Andrea Lazaro from Barcelona, Spain. Hopefully, these young players can provide speed and passion to the squad.

Carlotta Orlando is expected to play very well this season. As a junior, the team of young players and transfers needs her leadership. She finished with a 19-9 record and was incredible in conference play going unbeaten. The team will depend on her experience to guide it along the season.

The Panthers will start the season in Evanston, Illinois, playing in the Northwestern Tournament from Friday, Sept. 26, to Sunday, Sept. 28t. After doing well in last year’s Intercollegiate Tennis Association Southeast Regionals, the Panthers want to continue their success and will have a chance to do so from Oct. 18 to the 20 in Jacksonville, Fl.

The team will have the chance to play at home for the first time of the season as they host the FIU Invitational from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2.

After the UCF Quad Tournament II on Jan. 17 in Orlando, Fl., the Panthers will play in nine inter-conference matches until they face Southern Mississippi for their conference opener at home on March 3, 2015.

This will be a big test for the Panthers because they fell to the Golden Eagles last year in the Conference USA championship 4-2, eliminating them from contention. They will have the chance to avenge their loss at home and come up with a victory.

The Panthers will face a rather average University of Texas at San Antonio team at home on March 27. The Roadrunners are coming off a pedestrian 11-11 season, so FIU shouldn’t have that much problem taking care of business.

On March 28, the Panthers will go up against Marshall at home for the last time in the 2014-2015 season. This will be a good test for FIU considering that the Thundering Herd went 14-8 last year and reached the conference semis. We will get to see how well our young athletes can cope with more difficult competition.

The regular season will conclude at Orlando, Fl., where the Panthers will face University of Alabama at Birmingham on April 5. The squad took care of business last time they went up against the Blazers, earning a 4-2 win.

This season, the Panthers have the advantage of having three of their four conference matchups at home— or is it a disadvantage? Last year, the team went 6-5 at home and 5-1 on the road. With preparation and support, they will be able to perform at a high level in conference clashes.

Our Panthers want to be in Houston, Texas, from April 20 to 22 for the 2015 Conference USA Championship. For now, there is a long season that still needs to play out. Hopefully, our Panthers will stay in Houston for all three days and play in the final on Wednesday, April 22.

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