February 12, 2014

2014 Women's Tennis Preview

The Stormy Petrels look to be much improved over last year's seventh-place SAA finish. Junior 2012 All-SCAC performer Caffrey Francis returns after missing last year with illness. She has regained her form and finished the fall at No. 2 singles. Francis is a fierce competitor who will battle for every point.  Freshman newcomer JaHaun Freeman-Clark was in the top 200 national rankings in 2010 and will definitely make her mark in the SAA. She had a very positive showing in the fall ITA Southern Regionals. This powerful lefty finished the fall at No. 1 singles. She has a tremendous forehand and will punish you if you leave the ball sitting. Sophomore Katherine Walker, who valiantly held the No. 1 singles spot last year, will be a lot more confident at No. 3. These three women give the team the strongest top half of a lineup they've had in several years.

Freshman Ingrid Wilcox has a lot of weapons and finished the fall at No. 4. She has huge upside potential and will get better as she gains experience. Tricia Groover has added power to go with her speed and is mentally tougher. She will compete with Ingrid for a top six spot. The team will sorely miss senior Kate Siess, 2013 SAA Honorable Mention, and MaryAnne Hafen as they continue their studies abroad. Their leadership and companionship are a great loss to this young team.

The Petrels have some talented sophomores who will be ready to go. Marcail McGranahan has the potential to take a level jump if she can escape inconsistency. Hailey Bowers has been the team's doubles specialist, but now looks ready for some singles action. Emma Bernard and Paolette Matute are the squad's most improved players who gained valuable experience last year and will be ready when counted upon. Both are moving and striking the ball better. Hopefully, junior Lauren Martin can shake the illness and injury bugs that have kept her from reaching her potential. Any of these girls can ably fill in the bottom half of the lineup.

The Petrels will have a much stronger doubles lineup. Freeman-Clark and Walker are a genuine threat at No. 1, showing great movement and power. They will dominate some opponents. Francis and Wilcox are a very solid No. 2 team. The squad has good options at No. 3 with some combination of Groover, Bowers and McGranahan.

They have a daunting schedule featuring two nationally-ranked opponents (No. 2 Emory and No. 14 Sewanee) and six teams regionally ranked in the Atlantic South. They open away against No. 20 Huntingdon Feb. 21 followed by away at No. 2 Emory Feb. 25. They will again travel to Orlando, Fla., for spring break and play six matches in four days to get them ready for the SAA schedule. This year they have Berry, Centre, Sewanee, Rhodes and Hendrix at home with Millsaps and Birmingham-Southern away. This will be the best Oglethorpe ladies team in several years. They have strength at the top of the lineup and more solid depth at the bottom. Barring injury, they look to improve on their conference standing. There is genuine excitement about the coming season.

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