CLINTON, Iowa - The Ashford University women's tennis squad finds themselves in a position similar to the men's team last year heading in to this season.
Last year marked the first season for the Ashford women's tennis team, but they weren't able to play the spring season due to a lack of players. That has been the objective this past off-season for second-year head coach Chad Fenwick, who had the task of molding the young program.
"Our main focus to get the women's team up and going was heavy in recruiting," Fenwick said. "We only had three girls last year and I didn't have a chance to get more players before the season started last year. So we suspended the season in the spring and we've had to start the season from scratch and prepare for this year."
Fenwick has stocked the team with a full roster, but he's optimistic about the quality of talent joining the team this season.
Junior Anastasia Dabiza joins the team, re-uniting with Fenwick, who coached her at Upper Iowa. Dabiza is expected to assume the number one position on the team, as she brings the most experience to the team as the only upper-classmen.
Joining her on the team this year are freshmen Ana Mayagoitia, Andreina Guedez, Jessica Albers, Montseratt Elizondo, Sami Melcher and Sara Vach, as well as sophomore Theresa Stumpf. While the team hasn't had a chance to take the court just yet, Fenwick feels that he's got a nice groupe of players rounding out the roster this year.
"I feel that we've got a good core, much like the men," said Fenwick. "We have a nice balance with international kids coming in, but we've also got kids that are going to fit into our program. But, we're also going to be a young team and we're going to use the fall to focus on getting better for the spring."
The women's team will play in three tournaments and two dual meets this season. The Saints are going to use the fall schedule to work through the growing pains that a young team faces, as well as using it as a chance to grow together as a team.
"I feel good about our kids," Fenwick said. "We've got a good group that's going to work hard and we've got the tools around us to succeed. We have a great facility and an opportunity to travel and compete. Our primary concern this year is to be able to get past some of the tougher teams in the conference and we want to position ourselves to have a chance to qualify for the national tournament."
The Saints will begin the fall season on Friday, when they travel to Quincy, Ill. to take part in the Quincy University Tournament.