PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The Plymouth State University women's tennis team opens the 2006 season this week with a pair of non-conference matches, Thursday afternoon on the road and Saturday afternoon in the home opener.
PSU opens the season Thursday (Sept. 7) at Colby-Sawyer College (4:00 p.m.), and returns home to entertain Endicott College Saturday (Sept. 9) at the P.E. Center Courts (12:00 p.m.) It is the first of five home matches this season.
The Panthers will be out to reclaim the Little East Conference championship in 2006. After winning its first LEC title in 2004, PSU posted an 8-3 overall record last season and a 6-1 mark in conference dual matches, and finished runner-up at the LEC Tournament.
Led by third-year head coach Barbara Rawlsky-Willett (left), the Panthers will play 11 dual matches in the next seven weeks, culminating with the annual LEC Championship Tournament at UMass Dartmouth the third weekend in October.
PSU has combined for a 34-17 record over the past five years, including 22-6 in LEC matches.
2006 PSU Women's Tennis Outlook
Plymouth State welcomes back three starters from last year's team, and a solid group of newcomers, according to Coach Rawlsky-Willett.
"Having three key returnees gives us a good core to work with," says Rawlsky-Willett. "We have three singles and one doubles team of veterans... that's four spots that we know we can be competitive in, and half another doubles team."
The Panthers graduated three seniors, including Whitney O'Leary, who played #1 singles and doubles the past two years, Rachel Xavier, a two-time LEC #4 singles champ, and Sarah Cole, who won the LEC title at #5 last year.
"We're not rebuilding, but it will be tough to fill that No. 1 spot," says Rawlsky-Willett. "Some people are going to have to step up into new positions."
The group of returning starters include senior Erica Huckins (Holderness, N.H./Plymouth Regional), junior Jill Deyermond (Atkinson, N.H./Timberlane), and sophomore Meghan Rodier (Francestown, N.H./ConVal). Huckins has posted a 19-9 singles record the past two seasons, winning the #2 LEC singles title in 2004 and finishing runner-up at #3 last year, while Deyermond is a combined 16-12 and finished runner-up the LEC Tournament at #3 and #2 the past two years. Rodier posted a 12-4 record at #6 as a freshman and finished second in the conference tournament.
Huckins also played #1 doubles last year and Deyermond was at #2, but the two will likely pair up together this fall at the top of PSU's doubles line-up, in addition to battling for the #1 singles spot.
Coach Rawlsky-Willett says that three other returnees are looking to break into the line-up - junior Briley Boisvert (Goffstown, N.H./Trinity) and seniors Kiley Boyd (Brattleboro, Vt.) and Brittany Campbell (Newport, R.I.) Junior Joan Kietzman (Holderness, N.H./Plymouth Regional), a transfer from Guilford College, could also be a factor, as well as a couple of freshmen.
"Our goal is always to win the Little East Conference," said Rawlsky-Willett. "We'll have some people playing in new positions this year as well as some new people in the line-up, but I think we can be competitive and hopefully we'll be ready for the LEC Tournament in October."
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