January 19, 2006 - by
Women’s Tennis Opens 2006 Campaign At Wildcat Invitational

Jan. 19, 2006

The Florida State women’s team, with six newcomers and two veterans, opens its spring season this weekend in Evanston, Ill., at the Wildcat Invitational.  The Seminoles will battle players from No. 6 Northwestern, No. 44 Iowa and No. 48 New Mexico at the Combe Indoor Tennis Center.  A complete schedule of events is listed here. The Seminoles will play without No. 18 Carolin Walter (Bingen, Germany), a junior transfer from Baylor University.  Walter, who moved to Tallahassee just two days ago, will make her FSU debut at home on Sunday, Jan. 29, against Auburn.  Florida State enters the weekend ranked No. 50 in the country.  Seminoles.com, the official website of Florida State Athletics, will provide daily updates on the Wildcat Invitational. 


Women’s Tennis Season Outlook


After taking her team to the NCAA Tournament during her inaugural campaign at Florida State, Seminole Head Coach Jennifer Hyde returns to the courts in 2006 with a newfound attitude. This year’s squad is mixed with both youth and experience that includes three returning letterwinners, three freshmen, and three college transfers. Redshirt senior, Miranda Foley, will be sidelined for the entire season because of a shoulder injury and therefore she is out of the lineup. The veterans include senior Alina Mihailescu, junior transfers Whitney Eber, Nicola Slater and Carolin Walter, sophomore Tapiwa Marobela, and freshmen Suzanna Mansour, Lisa Nystrom Skold, and Ania Rynarzewska.

According To Coach Hyde:

“Every few years there is a cycle where you lose a number of players, who are then replaced with new blood. This season is a year of great change for the program, one of building and growing. The people who are on this year’s team are the foundation for what the program is now, and for what it will become in the next few years. Veterans are always crucial in a program, as their leadership and wisdom is needed in helping the rookies adjust and learn about the program.”


Hyde understands the importance of a strong schedule to prepare her team for post-season play, and this year her non-conference slate is one of the toughest in the nation. The Seminoles will open the 2006 campaign with four tennis powerhouses–Northwestern, Iowa, New Mexico, and Penn State–during the weekend of Jan. 20 before turning right around to host Auburn on Jan. 29. FSU will stay at home for the next couple of weeks to face Florida A&M, Bethune-Cookman, UCF and Stetson. On Feb. 15, the Seminoles travel to Gainesville to battle intrastate rival Florida before returning home for matches against Georgia Southern, Troy, LSU, UAB, and Florida International. Florida State jumpstarts the 2006 Atlantic Coast Conference season, that includes new conference foe Boston College, on March 3 versus Miami in Tallahassee. The Seminoles will face North Carolina, Clemson, Georgia Tech, and Duke at home, while Boston College, Maryland, North Carolina State, Wake Forest, Virginia and Virginia Tech will all be road battles. The ACC Women’s Tennis Championship takes place April 20-23 in Cary, N.C.

According To Coach Hyde:

“I think our schedule can be as tough as any schedule in the nation. The ACC portion of the schedule alone is unbelievably difficult, which is a great thing for all the schools in the conference. The ACC is now on par with the SEC and the PAC-10, as one of the best tennis conferences in the nation. This will only continue to grow as the dynamics of the conference change. The great thing about this is that we will be playing the best teams in the country, year in and year out.”


Coach Jennifer Hyde–who captained one of the best teams in Florida State school history during the 1994 season–returned to her alma mater in 2005 in hopes of taking the women’s tennis program to new heights. She finished the season with a respectable 11-12 mark and a 4-6 Atlantic Coast Conference record to bring her career record to 66-71 in six seasons. Her team advanced to the NCAA Championship and then-senior Mihaela Moldovan became the school’s first All-American since the 1996 season. The Seminoles also proceeded to the quarterfinals of the ACC Women’s Tennis Championship. The FSU women’s tennis team completed the year with a final national ranking of No. 43.

On August 1, 2005, Hyde hired assistant coach Oliver Foreman, a former collegiate and professional tennis player who previously coached at Ali Hamadeh’s Tennis Academy.

Foreman played on the Professional Tennis Tour from 2002-2004 where he was the Irish National Open singles and doubles champion in 2002. Foreman also made it to the last round pre-qualifying for Wimbledon in 1998 and 2000.

According To Coach Hyde:

“Oliver brings so much to this program this year. First of all, he brings such professionalism to an environment that demands a professional approach. He expects the team to handle their approach to each day in a very professional way. This comes from his experience of playing on the tour, as well as from playing at a very high level in college. He is a non-stop hard worker, and his enthusiasm is unlike anyone I’ve ever been around in my life. He’s one of the most positive people I’ve ever met, and all of this combined makes for an amazing assistant coach.”


The coaching staff made it clear that no one person is penciled in to play at the top singles spot this season. According to Hyde, there are a lot of unknowns in singles action thanks to the youth, transfers and the addition of January enrollees, Nicola Slater and Carolin Walter. As for doubles play, Hyde states she has spent a big portion of the fall having the players work on mechanics in this area of the game.

According To Coach Hyde:

“Doubles is always an area that needs to be focused on, especially as the spring season rolls around. We’ve spent a great deal of time this fall teaching and playing doubles. In junior tennis, doubles is rarely concentrated on, so for our newcomers this is something we have really tried to pay a great deal of attention to during the fall season. The results are definitely there, but we still have more work to do.”


One player who has shown great improvement over her career at FSU is the lone senior of the class, Alina Mihailescu (Constanta, Romania/Mircea Cel Batran National College). The Romanian native is one of three returning letterwinners and she will look for playing time in both singles and doubles play. She saw limited action last season, playing in two singles matches and one doubles contest.

Sophomore Tapiwa Marobela (Gaborone, Botswana/Clapham) is also back and although considered young in her career, she has already competed in 21 matches for the Seminoles. In 2005, she was the only rookie to see considerable playing time on the court, starting the majority of her contests at No. 5 singles. She had 13 doubles victories, playing primarily with redshirt senior Miranda Foley (Cambridge, England/Hills Road Sixth Farm College), and went 10-2 to end the season at No. 3 doubles. Unfortunately for Marobela and the team, Foley will not compete this season as she is sidelined with a shoulder injury. Foley will, however, continue to captain the Seminoles along with junior transfer Whitney Eber.


Hyde landed two outstanding transfer athletes during the off-season and they should make an immediate impact to the program. Junior Whitney Eber (Naples, Fla.) came to Florida State last summer after a two-year stint at the University of Utah and junior Nicola Slater (Ayr, Scotland) enrolled in January of 2006 after spending two and a half seasons at Southern Mississippi. With the 2006 women’s tennis season less than a week away, Hyde received a special treat when 18th-ranked Carolin Walter (Bingen, Germany) announced her intent to transfer to FSU from Baylor University.

Eber, Slater and Walter were accomplished collegiate athletes; Eber was a team captain as a sophomore and two seasons ago Slater became the first Southern Mississippi women’s tennis player to post 20 wins since the 1998-99 season. Walter finished last spring ranked No. 50 in the country before storming on the court during the fall season and posting an impressive 10-2 singles record that allowed her to jump 32 spots in the preseason rankings. She posted wins over the No. 9, No. 15 and No. 92 players in the country.


Freshmen Suzanna Mansour (Greenacres, Fla./Trinity Christian Academy), Lisa Nystrom Skold (Stockholm, Sweden/Adalsskolan, Kramfors) and Ania Rynarzewska (Inowroclaw, Poland/Warsaw School Complex-Polish Embassy) are the new faces of Florida State women’s tennis and Coach Hyde hopes they will set a strong foundation for the program. The three of them logged a respectable amount of playing time during the fall campaign and they will have the chance to be among the top newcomers in the conference this year. During the Seminole Fall Classic, Rynarzewska claimed the championship title of her respective singles flight. Mansour advanced to the finals of her flight during the Seminole Fall Classic, but came up on the short end to take the runner-up position. At the San Diego State Tournament in November, Nystrom Skold was the lone Seminole to claim a singles victory.









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