September 24, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 15  

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Tennis girls look to be golden

By Rob Schmidt
Gazette Writer

Dave Picard/Gazette
YOU CAN DO IT, PUT YOUR WRIST INTO IT. As Mike Richards looks on, a member of the women's tennis team returns a serve at last weekend's Mustang Invitational tournament.

The Western Mustangs women's tennis team's future never looked brighter.

This year's squad will remain remarkably similar to last year's silver medal team with five of six starters returning. Richard Ivey School of Business students Jacqueline Green and Diana Hanson should fill the spot in the number one doubles position. Also returning are Heather Bialkowski and Jennifer Vryvogel.

The most notable loss for the Mustangs is last year's team MVP Jennifer Lester, who solidified the line-up with a solid ground game playing the number three and four positions. Freshman Julia Creider, a London Central Secondary School grad and first year science student has less experience, but has shown great potential by finishing as a runner-up in last year's high school championship.

While Creider has only been playing for a few years, her athleticism and work ethic should slot her into the middle of the Western line-up with room to improve and move up throughout the rest of her Western career.

Although there is no one superstar that has emerged from the team, they look to be one of the deepest in recent memory with players one through nine all looking as if they should see some action this year.

While the team's depth and the return of most of the key players has been great for women's tennis at Western, the most promising sign seems to be the return of head coach Mike Richards and his assistant German Rozo.

Richards, a University of Louisiana-Lafeyette grad and former Canadian junior doubles champion, has provided great leadership and has brought a wealth of knowledge to the Western tennis courts.

As the women had previously employed three coaches in three years, Richards has brought some sorely needed structure and stability to the team.

Beginning this year Ontario University Athletics has scaled back the tennis season from a full seven-week season with an individual championship to two weekends, which include a qualifying tournament and the OUA team championship.

However, the decreased OUA schedule has not stopped Richards from getting some competition time for his team.

Starting last week, the women played a competitive match against the University of Detroit, where the girls posted three singles victories, including a victory from Creider.

Richards has also set up matches against several other schools, including dates at Bowling Green University and Wayne State University in Michigan.

Despite the dismantling of the formal OUA schedule, Richards and the team seem to be showing the London sporting community varsity tennis is alive and well.

The Mustangs next competition will be Fri., Oct. 3 and Sat., Oct. 4, when they welcome Laurier, McGill and McMaster to the University Community Centre.





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