WVU Opens Season at UNC-Wilmington Invitational

  • By Brian Kuppelweiser
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  • September 15, 2011 10:50 AM
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The WVU women’s tennis team is set to open its fall season this Friday morning in the UNCW Collegiate Tennis Invitational at the Althea Gibson Tennis Complex in Wilmington, N.C.

After beginning workouts on Aug. 30, coach Tina Samara says she has seen improvements in all aspects of the program, including an increase of depth.

“Already, I am seeing a really positive difference in this year and last year,” Samara says. “Last year, we were a little thin at the bottom. We have brought in some kids that have helped get rid of that thinness we have had. The practices have automatically become better because the level of talent is a lot higher.”

In addition to West Virginia and UNC-Wilmington, the 39-player field will include women from Furman, Georgetown and Virginia Tech.

The tournament will be the first collegiate event held at the new facility, with play beginning at 8:30 a.m. daily, Friday through Sunday.

Two players in particular have stood out to Samara so far in practices, and both are considered to be the leaders of a team that wants to build off of last year’s successes.

“Junior Emily Mathis, as far as the day-to-day, showing up and working hard has brought that every time she is out there,” Samara says. “Senior Veronica Cardenas has worked really hard this summer, and it is really obvious in the way she came back as far as fitness goes. She has really embraced trying new things on the court, which can be tough.”

This year, WVU’s fall schedule features tough competition from multiple top-notch teams.

“It helps the current players see the level that is out there,” Samara says. “It is easy to get these kids to do things that they need to do once they see that there are players out there that are working harder and playing at a higher level.”

The benefit is not just for the players, however, as Samara expects it to make her job a little easier from a recruiting standpoint.

“It helps with recruiting,” Samara says. “If I am looking at kids that are highly ranked, that is important to them that we are facing the best opponents possible.”

Following their trip to UNC-Wilmington, the Mountaineers will compete in the Wake Forest Invitational, the Georgia Invitational and their lone home date of the fall, the Martha Thorn Invitational on Oct. 7.

“You can beat a player that doesn’t have a ranking in the fall, but if they continue to do well and become ranked - you then have a top 50 win,” Samara says. “You never know who you are matching up against and what kind of win that may turn out to be.”

Updates will be provided throughout the weekend.


Tina Samara, West Virginia University Mountaineers, NCAA women's tennis