PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Challenging for the Little East Conference title and improving on last year's record are the goals for the Plymouth State College women's tennis team as the '97 campaign opens against a pair of Granite State opponents.
The Panthers will host Colby-Sawyer College Thursday (Sept. 11) for the opening match of the year (4:00 p.m.), a contest recently switched from New London to Plymouth, then meet the University of New Hampshire Saturday (Sept. 13) in Durham (3:00 p.m.). The next PSC home match has also been moved from Monday to Tuesday (Sept. 16) against Castleton State (3:30 p.m.).
Second-year head coach Robin Payne is determined to turn around a record that dipped to 3-8 last season. Six veterans return to this year's team, and Payne is looking for a different result.
"We really want to improve on last year's team, and I think we're capable of doing that," said Payne. "We have a couple of returnees back who are strong. We could win 60-75 percent of our matches with the schedule we have."
PSC posted back-to-back second place finishes in the Little East Conference Tournament in '95 and '96, and Payne would like her team to take that next step.
"Our goal is to finish at least in the top two in the Little East, if not knock off defending champion UMass Dartmouth," said Payne. "We're hosting it this year on Homecoming Weekend and we want to win it. There's going to be a lot of people around, coming from the soccer games and the football game, so a home crowd will really be in effect. I think it'll be greatly to our advantage."
Payne feels she has four solid returnees in senior captains Kate Loeber (Cranston, RI) and Kris Roberge (Berlin, NH), junior Sarah Schutzendorf (Fayetteville, NY) and sophomore Jen Lemire (Manchester, NH). Loeber played at No. 3 singles and No. 2 doubles last season, and will fill a spot near the top of the line-up. Lemire posted the best singles record on the team (7-7), playing mostly at No. 4 and No. 5, and Schutzendorf, who had a 7-4 record as a freshman in '95, returns after sitting out most of last season. Roberge, who went by the name Kris Nolin before she married Jeremy Roberge (a goalie on the PSC hockey team) last summer, moved into the line-up at No. 6 singles last season.
The top newcomer appears to be freshman Lauren Kruse (Pitman, NJ), according to Payne, who is already vying for one of the top spots on the team. She has an arsenal of shots, and should be a help to the team.
Sophomores Myia Parent (Berlin, NH) and Angela Paris (Woodstock, CT) are two other veteran returnees who gained experience as members of the team last year, and will be looking to break into the line-up. Newcomers looking for playing time are freshmen Liza Tallarita (Warwick, RI), Jamie Hupper (Merrimack, NH) and Becky Wark (Westbrook, ME).
"Our doubles should be strong again," said Payne. "It was a strong point for us last year."
Last year's No. 1 team of Amy Virgin and Kathy Lillie have both graduated, but Payne thinks the tandem of Loeber and Kruse will make a good team. Lemire and Roberge made a good duo last season, and will likely remain together. Schutzendorf will also be a strong doubles player, but Payne is still sorting out the possible combinations.
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