Home women's tennis finale slated for Sunday

Match moved to Old Fort Park Tennis Complex

April 2, 2011 · Athletic Communications
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Middle Tennessee women's tennis team will put a cap on the 2011 home schedule when it plays host to UAB at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Old Fort Park tennis complex along Old Fort Parkway (Highway 96) in Murfreesboro.

"We want to close out our home schedule with a solid performance," said head coach Melissa Schaub. "Our fans have been great all spring and we want to give them another win as a thank you for all their support and encouragement."

The contest will also mark the end of an eight-match homestand, the Blue Raiders' longest since 2000. The two teams have met 20 times through the years with the series tied 10-10 after Middle Tennessee garnered a 5-2 triumph in Birmingham last season. Middle Tennessee has not defeated the Blazers at home, however, since 2002.

The Blue Raiders last competed last Sunday, March 27, and knocked off South Alabama 4-3 as sophomore Lexi Brand picked up the decisive point in her No. 4 singles match to lift the team record to 6-8. Brand's win was her sixth of the spring, moving her into a third-place tie on the squad for victories with junior Alex Dachos.

Junior Carla Nava paces the team with eight triumphs this spring, including a four-match winning streak, to lead sophomore Yuiri Nomoto by one.

In doubles action, Dachos and Nava own the top record at 7-4. The only other pairing to equal the tandem in victories with seven is Brand and junior Marietta Bigus.

UAB enters the match with a 6-9 record, dropping a midweek match to Abilene Christian before a tough 4-3 setback to Arkansas State Saturday in Jonesboro, Ark. The Blazers are under the direction of third-year head coach Krissy Hall.

Evelien Strijker tops the team with 11 singles wins, while Jenny Cape is also in double figures with 10, while Cape and Giorgia Romeo set the tone in doubles with four victories.

There will be no Senior Day festivities for Middle Tennessee Sunday, as the squad features no seniors on its roster. The Blue Raiders will then conclude the regular season with three-straight road matches.

Getting to Know...Melissa Schaub
1. When did you decide to get into college coaching and why? Probably junior high. My dad is a coach and he runs a tennis club. I love tennis and want to work with people who have goals and want to take it farther. So I thought at a young age that college coaching was what I wanted.
2. Did you consider playing pro tennis as a youngster? As a youngster, I was always playing tennis. I got to school with those aspirations and wanted to play as long as I could, and then get into college coaching. I had a bunch of injuries, my body did not quite hold up, so I skipped that part and came right into coaching.
3. What advice would you give high school players who want to play in college? I tell them to start working as hard as you can and make sure that you love it. When you love the sport, college athletics is the greatest. It is also not something that you leisurely get into.
4. Where do you see the women's tennis program in the next five years? I hope that people will be looking at us as being the team to beat in the Sun Belt. For us, I think we are still going to have a very successful season this year. We will be a very disciplined team that shows up to play every day. Hopefully, we will have a couple of championships under our belt in five years.
5. Most of our players are foreign. What makes them such good players? Tennis is a bigger sport in other countries that do not have football or baseball or basketball. Here, if your parents play, you might make that your No. 1 sport. For a female athlete especially, it is one of the first sports that kids do in foreign countries. As a result, they are usually farther ahead when they are 17-18 years old.
6. What do you like best about this year's team? I would say their heart. They are the ultimate team and that is something that is really cool to be a part of. In recruiting, we try not to recruit someone that is just a tennis player. We want to see how they interact with their families, their friends, their parents. When we go to tournaments and see how they support their teammates or friends, we know they will make a good teammate here. When we went to Poland to recruit Marietta Bigus, she treated her parents with nothing but respect and she treats me the same way. You get kids like that in and good things are going to happen.
7. What do you least enjoy about coaching? This is my first year as head coach and that is when you really find out that it is not all on-court. I love the coaching, the developing, watching the players get better. But there is much more to it than that. It took me a semester to figure out time management. But really, I love all of it. I have no complaints on my end.
8. What aspect of their game are you working on the most? Right now we are working on discipline and I would guess that I am not their favorite coach right now. But this team is always laughing, telling stories, and the fun is always there. This team loves tennis more than any team I have ever been a part of. They will practice six hours a day and want to practice more. I have to run them off of the court sometimes. But I also think they need to learn how to work better as far as their discipline and stuff on the court.
9. What factors about MT helps in recruiting? When I first got here as an assistant, we would wear our MT shirts, etc., and people would ask us where that was. But it is getting better with women's basketball and the football team getting national recognition. You get on ESPN, go to a couple of bowl games and folks are no longer asking that, and that is huge for us. Also, our location in the south helps. And once we get recruits on campus, the people here are so nice and the kids feel so comfortable here, so it is just a matter of getting them here. If I do my job and get someone to visit, then once they get here and meet the team and see the school, we almost always get them. You cannot hang out with this team and not want to be a part of it.
10. What qualities do you look for in a potential recruit as someone that you would like to be a part of the Blue Raider program? Athletically, I want someone that is going to keep improving. I do not necessarily want to recruit a player who is unbelievable but has reached her peak. You want people who can still improve. And they have to love it. You do not want someone that maybe is really good, but has a bad attitude, someone that is just here to get her school paid for and that is it. I am very honest in letting them know how hard we work and I hope they are honest with me in how hard they are willing to work. There are other things, like how they communicate with me, how they treat their family. The best advice I ever got was to watch a recruit and see how they treat their family.

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