Coach: First tournament to gauge women’s team’s abilities

The women’s tennis team will hit the courts today at the Bulldog Invitational in Athens, Ga. for its first tournament of the fall season.

The tournament, hosted by the University of Georgia, will be a round robin event of singles and doubles matches and will feature the women’s tennis teams of Georgia, Duke, Mississippi, Indiana, Virginia, Wake Forest and TCU, according to the University of Georgia’s Athletics Web site.

Doubles matches will begin today at 10 a.m., and singles matches will follow at 12:30 p.m. The tournament will last through Sunday afternoon.

Head coach Jefferson Hammond said he is very excited about the fall season getting started so early.

“It’s pretty early in the fall to be playing a tournament,” Hammond said. “The tournament itself presents great opportunities for getting ranked wins.”

The team as a whole worked on getting better in general this off-season and this tournament will help the team know where it stands, Hammond said.

“A lot of the players have worked very hard over the summer and we’ve worked hard the last couple weeks,” Hammond said. “Overall, it’s a great measuring stick for us to see where we are coming off of the summer.”

When sophomore Maria Babanova returned to Fort Worth after spending her summer in Russia, Hammond asked her what she had focused on while she was away.

“I just worked on my weaknesses,” Babanova told her coach.

A number of the players got great competition when they played in pro events over the summer as well, Hammond said.

The players themselves have been looking forward to this weekend’s tournament, said sophomore Katariina Tuohimaa.

“I like playing matches so it’s fun to have a tournament and get some matches played,” Tuohimaa said. “We don’t have that many this fall so I’m looking forward to this weekend. I’m just going to try to play my best, have fun and play well.”

The Bulldog Invitational is just one step in the journey toward a much bigger goal, Hammond said.

“As a team, we’d like to put ourselves in a position to go deep in the NCAA Tournament,” Hammond said. “That was our goal last year and we fell way short of what we felt we were capable of. We had a very strong schedule, but this year our schedule’s even tougher.”

After the Bulldog Invitational, the Horned Frogs will participate in tournaments in California and Hawaii before hosting the ITA Southwest Regional from Oct. 23 to 27.