PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The first two matches of the season, one on the road and one at home, are set for this week for the Plymouth State College women's tennis team.
The Panthers will make their 2002 debut Thursday at Granite State rival Colby-Sawyer College (4:00 p.m.) and return to Plymouth for the first home match of the year Saturday at the P.E. Center Courts against Little East Conference foe Rhode Island College (1:00 p.m.).
Led by fifth-year head coach Judy Switzer, the Panthers will play nine regular season matches, including five conference encounters. The Little East Tournament is slated for Oct. 11-12 at UMass Boston.
The Panthers are coming off an outstanding campaign in 2001, when they posted an 8-3 mark, the team's first winning season in six years. PSC was 4-1 in LEC dual matches before placing fifth at the LEC Championships.
2002 PSC Women's Tennis Outlook
The hopes are high in the Plymouth State camp heading into the 2002 campaign. PSC returns all six of the top singles players from last year's team, which include the top four doubles players. Switzer is hoping this year's team builds on last year's success.
"We were very happy with our regular season last year," said Switzer, "and we've continued to improve. We've got some very good players. We've got four or five strong players at the top of the line-up, and the rest of the team is solid and balanced. Any one of them could get into the line-up."
Switzer added that the competition this fall has been strong.
"They've got fight, desire and spirit," said Switzer. "They want to win, and boy, that's nice. We could have a wonderful season, it's up to them."
Senior Jamie Hazard (Foster, R.I.) returns as one of the co-captains and the leader of the team. She posted an 8-5 record at No. 1 singles last fall while also playing in the No. 1 doubles slot.
The next three spots in the singles' line-up should include veterans Katie Olsen (Reading, Mass.) and Sarah Kasuba (Stratford, Conn.) and freshman Jessie Leone (Cataumet, Mass.). Olsen, a junior, was an impressive 10-2 at No. 2 singles last season, while Kasuba, a senior, led the team in singles wins last year by posting an 11-2 mark at No. 3, and both were solid doubles players. Leone has been the most impressive newcomer so far this fall.
Switzer has three others who could find themselves regularly in the line-up - junior co-captain Lindsay Coletti (Hudson, Mass.), classmate Cally Thorup (Cumberland, Maine) and freshman Whitney O'Leary (Sagamore Beach, Mass.).
The rest of the team who will be contending for a spot in either the singles or doubles line-up includes sophomores Cassie Cash (Bath, Maine) and Rebecca Love (Bedford, N.H.) and freshmen Liz Duell (Hopewell Valley, R.I.), Megan Sowers (Londonderry, N.H.) and Rachel Xavier (Meredith, N.H.).
"We're excited to get the season underway," said Switzer, "and we're hoping for another outstanding year. We were very happy with our season last year, and hopefully we'll improve on our performance on the LEC Tourney this year. I think we have the team that can do it."