University of Utah Women's Tennis team cheers after the first round of doubles agains the Weber State Wildcats at the George S. Eccles Tennis Center at the University of Utah on Sunday, March 26, 2017

The 2018 women’s tennis team wants to capitalize on a fabulous recruiting class coupled with many returning players who will bring experience and grit to the table. Coach Mat Iandolo brings a winning record, having made it to the NCAA tournament nine times. The Utes have to deal with some difficult competition in the Pac-12 conference, but looks equipped to do so with four freshman joining the team, all ranked within the top 100. Two of these women ranked within the top 40 of their graduating class nationwide.

Last year, Utah won 10 dual matches and featured an All-Conference performer. This year, coach Mat Iandolo is highlighting leader Brianna Chisholm. Chisholm, a senior from Kaysville, Utah, looks primed to compete for the top spot in the lineup and lead the youthful but talented team to the NCAA championships. Iandolo said this year’s goal is “to improve and gain experience with every event and every match, yet playing to potential, we can and really want to make NCAA tournament.” Iandolo also said that this year’s team is “physically very talented and the success we have will depend on how we react mentally to adversity.”

The team will rely on two hometown seniors, Brianna Chisholm and Taylor Calton, to lead the young and talented group. Lindsay Hung and Madison Tattini, both of whom are top 40 recruits, and Emily Dush and Anya Lamoreaux, whom are top 100 recruits, round out the uber-talented freshman class. Lindsay Hung, a freshman out of San Clemente, California, was a five-star recruit, holding the highest UTR on the team. She projects to immediately contribute near the top of the lineup. Madison Tattini, from Illinois, will hopefully ride her momentum as a top 40 recruit to the top end of the lineup and buttress the veterans with her youth and talent. Emily Dush, from Chula Vista, California, a top 75 recruit, will fight for a lineup spot, adding a great piece to a deep roster. Anya Lamoreaux, the final freshman of the talented quartet, is from Mesa, Arizona, and will carry over winning ways from the high school level and buttress an already stacked lineup. Whitney Hekking, a junior and sister to Brianna Chisholm, and Leah Heimuli hail from Utah and plan on carrying their state pride while playing for the team.

The Utes Men’s tennis team hit the courts against the University of Montana’s Grizzlies this Saturday Feb. 19.
David Micevski returns a shot from Yannick Schmidl.
(Photo by: Justin Prather / Daily Utah Chronicle)

The Pac-12 is loaded with supreme talent and the winner of the conference is almost always a favorite to contend for the National Championship. In negotiating the gauntlet that is the Pac-12, the U wants to improve on the 10 dual win season from the year before and should thrive against non-conference opponents. The non-conference schedule features the Atlantic Coast Conference’s North Carolina State and the Big Ten’s Northwestern, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Last year, Utah only had one Pac-12 win and needs to improve upon that number to make the NCAA championships.

The team lost All-Conference player Alexia Petrovic, yet has better depth this year due to the incoming freshman class with all of them projected to contribute mightily this year and for years to come. The question for this year’s team is how the new contributors, freshman or older, react to the adversity of playing high-level collegiate tennis. This depth should help gain the total number of victories within the team, and hopefully lead to winning more matches outright against the elite competition Utah routinely faces. Utah has a unique advantage of altitude when playing at home, which makes us more accustomed to the elevated pace of the ball and could help defeat some of the juggernauts of the Pac-12 conference. For instance, Washington State, Washington, Oregon, Stanford and California all travel to Salt Lake City for matchups with the Utes and will have to adapt to the high elevation and the challenges it presents.

The Utes, filled with talent and a beautiful blend of tested veterans and talented freshman, are primed for a great season.

The U’s men’s tennis team plans to follow up their impressive campaign from a season ago, hoping to make their second consecutive NCAA tournament run after snapping a 21 year drought. Coach Roeland Brateanu and company will have to negotiate a conference with three top 12 teams in the nation. While facing perennial powerhouses constantly, the team has a goal of “not only hovering around the top 25, but consistently ranking within the top 25 throughout the season.” Per coach Brateanu, this year’s team is more talented on paper but will have to replace their captains. The vacancy of the leadership role should be assumed by the three seniors, Dan Little, Joe Woolley and David Micevski, all competing for the top spot in the lineup. Along with these three seniors, coach Brateanu expects big things from Svyatoslav Shainyan (Slava), a junior from Moscow, Russia. Slava had an excellent freshman season with 15 wins but regressed a little bit as a sophomore, however, he “should have a great year and seems to be back to form, competing very hard, even earning two ATP points over the summer,” said Brateanu.

Utah Tennis freshman Taylor Calton congratulates her opponent following the match against Boise State at the Eccles Tennis Center on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2016

With the goal of returning to the NCAA championships for the second consecutive season, Coach Brateanu expects this season to be fruitful. “The team got the proverbial monkey off of their back after making the NCAA tournament,” Brateanu said. Brateanu believed the additional pressure of attempting to make the championships caused nerves, and without that pressure, the team should have a better finish to the season. This year, with that experience behind them and the planned implementation of a new training schedule the battle-tested roster should be primed for an excellent season. The roster has three freshmen, headlined by Mathias Gavelin of Sweden, who figures to be an immediate contributor, as well as Paul McCallie from Atlanta, Georgia and RJ Parker from Bountiful, Utah, both of whom add excellent depth.

Last season, the U only had two Pac-12 wins, and will try to improve that mark this year when facing UCLA, Washington, Oregon, California, Stanford and Arizona State. Their preseason features the ever-excellent University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which consistently contends in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and in the 2016-2017 season placed as the runner up in the NCAA championships. Due to the Pac-12’s depth and prowess, the non-conference schedule becomes all the more imperative. The U will look to emulate last season’s success in the non-conference schedule, as they went 17 and four. They also hope to replicate the success they found in the Eccles Tennis Center, going 12 and two at home. In order to win, Utah will have to find an identity, with new leaders emerging, and discover which players will best construct a strong middle of the order lineup. In a quest to find their identity, the U opens up preseason play with the Gopher Invitational, followed by its first head to head match against archrival BYU on Jan. 12.

This season will test a talented roster in search of leaders with the depth of the Pac-12 and the raising expectations that come with ambitious, yet attainable goals, such as the Utes goal of competing for a spot in the top 25 and in the NCAA tournament.

l.thulin@dailyutahchronicle.com

@TheChrony

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