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PSU Women’s Tennis team opens season this weekend at the Colby-Sawyer Tournament

PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The Plymouth State University women's tennis team will compete in the annual Colby-Sawyer College Shootout this weekend to officially open the 2007 campaign.

The Panthers will join Colby-Sawyer, Castleton State College and Saint Michael's College for the two-day event this Saturday and Sunday, beginning at 10:00 a.m. each day. PSU won the tourney two years ago, and Colby-Sawyer captured last year's title.

Plymouth State will face Colby-Sawyer again next Thursday, Sept. 6, in the home opener and dual match opener at the P.E. Center Courts (4:00 p.m.) It is the first of six home matches this season for the Panthers.

PSU will be looking for its second straight Little East Conference championship in 2007, and third in four years. The Panthers finished the regular season last fall at 8-3 overall and 6-1 in conference play, then captured the LEC Tournament Championship last October with an upset over regular season champion Rhode Island College. PSU won its first LEC title in 2004.

The LEC title also earned Plymouth State the LEC's automatic berth into the NCAA Division III National Championships last May. Making the first NCAA appearance in the program's history, the Panthers were knocked off in the first round by Saint Lawrence University, 5-0.

Led by fourth-year head coach Barbara Rawlsky-Willett (left), the Panthers will play 12 dual matches in the next six weeks, culminating with the annual LEC Championship Tournament at RIC the third weekend in October.

PSU has combined for a 42-21 record over the past six years, including 28-7 in LEC matches.

2007 PSU Women's Tennis Outlook

Plymouth State welcomes back four starters from last year's team, including the top two singles players, and a solid group who will contend for filling out the rest of the lineup, according to Coach Rawlsky-Willett.

"Having four key starters returning is a nice core to build around, especially with the top two back," says Rawlsky-Willett. "The other two returning starters should be able to move into the middle of the line-up, and we have several people who could step in at the bottom of the lineup. Or some of the others could even move up and take some spots in the middle."

Leading the group of returnees is senior Jill Deyermond (Atkinson, N.H./Timberlane), and junior Meghan Rodier (Francestown, N.H./ConVal), who played #1 and #2 singles last year, respectively. Both came back to win the consolation round in their bracket in the LEC Tournament, which proved pivotal in PSU winning the team title. Deyermond was 6-8 overall at #1 singles, 7-6 at #1 doubles, and has proven to be one of the top players in the conference, while Rodier was 10-4 at #2 singles, 11-3 and an LEC champion at #2 doubles, and could challenge Deyermond for the top spot on the team.

The other returning starters are seniors Joan Kietzman (Holderness, N.H./New Hampton School) and Briley Boisvert (Goffstown, N.H./Trinity). Kietzman went 11-3 at #5 singles and won the LEC title, while pairing up with Rodier to go 11-3 and win the LEC title at #2 doubles. Boisvert was 8-3 at #6 singles and 7-4 at #3 doubles and finished runnerup at the LEC Tourney in both brackets.

Sophomore Amanda Arponen (Plymouth, Mass./Plymouth South) and sophomore Denise Huckins (Holderness, N.H./Plymouth Regional) are returning players who have shown improvement and could secure a spot in the starting line-up. Freshman Buffy Garland (Freedom, N.H./Kennett) looks like the top newcomer.

"We're looking to defend our LEC title," said Rawlsky-Willett. "They're working extremely hard and they look good, so we'll see. We're optimistic, but we have some new people and new doubles combinations, so we'll have to come together as a team."

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