By Brian Penso
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday January 17, 2003
The Arizona women's tennis team hopes to continue its stellar play this weekend at the Pacific 10 Conference Indoor Championships, after posting a successful fall season under head coach Vicky Maes.
This weekend's championship marks the last individual tournament before the team season begins next weekend against Marquette.
With the team season just a week away, Maes said she is looking to see where the Wildcats are at physically heading into the opener.
Conditioning may be a factor this weekend as Arizona has not played a match since the middle of November, but Maes said the Wildcats have practiced as hard in preparation for this weekend as they have during the regular season.
"Everyone is anxious to get on the court and compete," Maes said. "It is going to be a weekend filled with some intense tennis. It will give me a chance to see who worked hard over break and who is in shape. We have been practicing hard to prepare for this tournament."
The level of tennis will be high as the Pac-10 has seven schools that are ranked in the ITA preseason top 25 poll.
The 20th-ranked Wildcats are the lowest ranked of the seven schools, but Maes is confident that the UA can compete with any team in the country.
The Wildcats are led by sophomore Maja Mlakar, who comes into the tournament looking to show the country that she is fully recovered from a fall season that saw her miss a lot of action due to various injuries.
During her freshman season, Mlakar proved she had the capability to be one of the best players in the country, but Arizona was unable to have a consistent No. 2 player during the latter half of last season.
In the absence of Mlakar during the fall season, sophomore Dianne Hollands stepped up her play and may be the answer for the Wildcats at the No. 2 position
Hollands concluded the fall season by winning the Fall Desert Classic, and she also teamed up with Kelly Perry to take the doubles title.
Junior Debbie Larocque has also shown that she is capable of competing against Pac-10 competition.
The remainder of the team, however, has not had an opportunity to face the rigors of Pac-10 competition, and Maes said this weekend will give them a chance to see where they stand among the conference's top players.
"Maja and Dianne had a great fall," Maes said. "They know they can beat players in the Pac-10. This weekend will give everyone else a chance to compete and prepare themselves for the conference play."