(Photo by BYU Photo)
DALLAS – The BYU women's tennis team will open the 2017 season by competing in the Mextroplex Mania held this weekend at the SMU Tennis Complex, Turpin Stadium & Brookshire Tennis Pavillion.
"It's a good way to get a lot of good matches against some good opponents and it will really help us warm up at the start of the season and get us into match mode," BYU head coach Lauren Jones-Spencer said. "It's been a while since we've competed but I'm expecting the girls to go out and compete hard."
Along with the BYU and host SMU, Rice and North Texas will also be participating in the Metroplex Mania. The teams will rotate singles and doubles matchups with matches counting towards players' individual records.
BYU will open play on Friday, competing against SMU in singles at 1 p.m. CST. Saturday, the Cougars will compete in doubles against SMU at 11 a.m. and North Texas at 11:30 a.m. before facing off against Rice in singles at noon. Monday, the Cougars will conclude play with doubles against Rice at 11 a.m. and singles against North Texas at 11:30 a.m.
"I really want the girls to focus one match at a time and to be really positive this season," Jones-Spencer said. "We set daily goals in practice and for each match and we're just really going to try to focus one day at a time and have fun and work hard."
After a successful fall season that included five tournaments, the Cougars look to continue the momentum into the 2017 season. BYU finished last season with a 6-16 record while placing fifth in the West Coast Conference. The Cougars secured a spot in the six-team conference tournament after posting a 4-5 WCC record in regular season play but fell 4-3 in a tight showdown with Santa Clara in the tournament quarterfinals.
"We have quite a few seniors on the team and I'm hoping that they can step up and lead this team on and off the court and help us to have a good season," Jones-Spencer said.
Leading the way for BYU are seniors Mayci Jones, Natella Nabieva, Demi Perkinson and Savannah Ware. Ware leads all active players with 57 singles victories and 39 doubles wins while Jones adds 24 singles victories at the No. 1 singles spot. Nabieva, who played her first two years of eligibility at the State College of Florida, posted a 9-11 singles record last year in her first season as a Cougar. Perkinson is coming off of a solid fall season in doubles, mantaining an even 3-3 record.
Having competed mostly at first doubles last year, the Cougars' Taylah Beckman, a sophomore, will also bring veteran experience to the team.
Balancing the experienced senior class are incoming freshmen Alana Bourgeois, Kate Cusick, Polina Malykh and Samantha Smith. Smith competed well during the fall season going 6-3 in singles play and reaching the doubles semifinal of the ITA Regional Tournament with doubles partner Ware. Cusick made a strong contribution in singles play as well for the Cougars, posting a 7-3 fall record while Malykh earned a 4-3 doubles record playing alongside Jones. Bourgeois, a native of Sydney, Australia, joins the team in her first semester at BYU.