With an experienced roster featuring three seniors and three juniors, the Stetson women's tennis team is set to open the 2013 campaign on Saturday, Feb. 2 against Flagler College. Last year, the Hatters fell to eventual Atlantic Sun Conference Champion North Florida in the semifinals.
Seniors Sara Lazarevic (Calgary, Alta.), Jen Miller (Tampa, Fla.), and Clarke Tatje (Eustis, Fla.) will be looked at to lead the team this spring. The trio of seniors won a combined 29 singles matches last season.
The three juniors on the roster are Diana Bukajeva (Riga, Latvia), Lindsey Cable (Gainesville, Fla.), and MayaBlue Stauffer-MacDowell (Asheville, N.C.). They were equally instrumental to the team's success last season, contributing a combined 34 singles wins in 2012.
"The experiences that our upperclassmen have gained over the years, for example our semifinal comeback against conference winner UNF in last year's A-Sun Tournament, will be an important part of our successes this year," Stetson Director of Tennis Pierre Pilote said.
The Hatters have five underclassmen on the team; one sophomore and four freshmen. Rachel Luke (Virginia Beach, Va.) is the only sophomore on the team, but she did not compete last season. The freshmen on the team are Andrea Crespo (Valencia, Spain), Anja Erwin (Longwood, Fla.), Eveline Lepinay (Quebec City, Quebec), and Alexandra Lyubimova (Miami, Fla.).
"The freshmen have done a great job in acclimating themselves to the team culture here at Stetson," Assistant Coach Christophe Noblet said. "We are looking forward to having them impact the team in a positive way this season."
After the opener against Flagler, the Hatters host five home matches before heading on their first road trip. They will host Charleston Southern (Feb. 9), Iowa State (Feb. 15), and Florida A&M (Feb. 23), before taking on four-time Southern Conference champion #63 College of Charleston on March 2. The Hatters finish their home-stand on March 4 against Pennsylvania.
Stetson will then hit the road for the first time, taking a trip to California where the team will take on Cal State Fullerton on March 7, and Cal State Northridge on March 8. The Hatters will return to the Mandy Stoll Tennis Center for four games, two of which will be their first conference contests. A-Sun matches against Northern Kentucky (March 14) and Lipscomb (March 16) are sandwiched between tilts against Cleveland State (March 12) and #72 Harvard (March 19).
"The team has an excellent non-conference schedule, including two home matches vs. nationally ranked teams, a first in the history of the women's program," Pilote said.
The Hatters will travel to Georgia for two matches against conference foes Kennesaw State and Mercer, on March 22 and 23, respectively. The Hatters will then return to DeLand for two matches against ETSU (March 28) and USC Upstate (March 30).
Stetson's final three matches of the regular season will take place in the state of Florida; at defending A-Sun Champion North Florida on April 6, as well as at home against UCF on Apr. 10 and Florida Gulf Coast on Apr. 13.
"The women's programs in the conference continue to get stronger each year, so this season will be extremely competitive," Pilote concluded.
The Atlantic Sun Conference championship will take place on April 19-21 in Johnson City, Tennessee.