The Washington and Lee women's tennis team and Head Coach Eric Ishida will be aiming for their 22nd ODAC Championship title in 2012 as they head into the season ranked eighth nationally and second in the Atlantic South region by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA).
Three ITA All-Americans return this spring, as seniors Ellen Yeatman (Little Rock, Ark./Little Rock Central), Trelsie Sadler (Wakefield, R.I./Groton School) and Lauren Lukas (Manitowoc, Wis./Lincoln) each look to repeat their successes.
Yeatman will return this season after advancing to the round of 16 at the NCAA Division III Singles Championship last May. She has recorded a 33-23 singles record and a 43-15 doubles record over her three seasons of competition.
Sadler and Lukas, serving as co-captains in 2012, paired together last year to post a 17-14 doubles record last spring and rank 13th in the nation. This year, the ITA has placed the duo at 10th in the region, and Lukas, a 2011 First Team All-ODAC honoree, sits 19th as an individual.
"The seniors are a great group," commented Ishida. "They have a lot of playing experience and have made big contributions to our program and all have improved in their time at W&L."
Senior Jen Snyder is joining Sadler and Lukas for the captain duties after completing last spring with a 9-12 singles record and an 18-8 doubles record with Yeatman, and earning First Team All-ODAC laurels for both.
Ishida has recognized the importance of the senior class this year, especially in helping the already successful first-years adjust to college-level competition.
"The seniors have done a great job of helping the team focus their efforts on daily improvements at practice," he said. "They have continued to work on the attitude of the team, as well as leading activities off the court to stimulate a healthy work ethic as a whole."
Morris was a First Team All-ODAC honoree last spring at the No. 3 doubles position, and is entering this season with a 17-15 career singles record and a 39-12 career doubles mark. Leinweber has spent her three years posting a 22-5 singles record and a 23-3 doubles record, including a perfect 6-0 mark in doubles action last spring.
Up-and-coming first-years have already made an impact on the team this year as their fall performances showcased their abilities.
"The freshmen have been responding very well to the first few weeks of practice," Ishida noted. "They are a talented group and will be able to add to the very experienced senior group."
First-year Sonja Meighan had a successful fall campaign as she advanced to the ITA Small College Championships in the fall where she finished in fifth place. Meighan is ranked second in the Atlantic South.
First-year Lindsey Burke will also look to break the lineup after she finished the fall 4-3 in singles play. She enters this spring with a No. 11 preseason regional ranking.
First-year Patricia Kirkland and junior Sallie Griffin both had solid performances in the fall season. Kirkland recorded a 6-3 record and Griffin posted a 6-4 mark, with each woman breaking the Top 25 of the Atlantic South singles rankings. As a sophomore, Griffin earned First Team All-ODAC accolades at No. 5 singles, concluding her spring with a 17-4 singles record and 13-10 in doubles.
Other contenders for the final singles positions could include junior Christina Douglas, Sadler, and first-years Meghan Buell and Allison Hupalo, as all four saw significant playing time in the fall season.
With the addition of the strong first-years to the experienced upperclassmen, Ishida has noticed the development of the whole team in response to the strong work ethic of his athletes.
"Practices have been filled with a very high intensity so far this year," he remarked. "The players are working harder each day."
The Generals' doubles teams faired well during the fall season, but the spring lineup is not set as many women could see playing time at different positions with a variety of partners.
Expectations surrounding the Generals are as high as ever and Ishida continues to strive for success by packing on a high level of competition throughout the season.
"Our non-conference schedule is difficult as we face high-level Top 20 teams and will compete against some Division I teams to further raise our level of play," Ishida said.
After a stretch of ODAC matches, the Generals will host the Fab Five Tournament at the end of March featuring a slew of high profile teams including No. 1 Williams, No. 3 Emory and No. 5 Tufts, as selected by the ITA in the national preseason rankings.
"We are constantly trying to find the best teams to play," Ishida commented. "It helps us prepare for the NCAAs and gives us a chance to keep improving as the level of ODAC women's tennis continues to rise."
The Generals will kick off their spring season on Wednesday with a home match up against Division I Radford at 4:30 pm.