BETHANY, W.Va. -- Coming off a very successful season last fall, the Bethany College women's tennis team will try to use that momentum to continue to climb the PAC standings in 2012.
That climb will not be an easy one however as the Bison lost a lot from last year's team that finished 12-5 overall, the most wins for the team since 2002, and tied for fourth at PAC Championships, which was BC's best showing since 2005. Head coach Jan Forsty, who is in her fifth year leading the tennis program, said this year's line-up will look very different than the one from a season ago.
"This will be an extreme rebuilding year for us," said Forsty. "We lost everyone from our usual line-up last year from #2 singles down. While it's never easy to replace that much experience, it does open up some spots for our younger players to step in and play right away."
The top spot in singles and doubles is secure for the Bison this year in senior Maria Vallone (Rochester, N.Y./Webster Schroeder). As a junior, she posted a 14-6 record at #1 singles and has a record of 25-11 in her two seasons on the court for BC. Vallone also had a combined mark of 13-5 in doubles competition last season. She continued to work on her game over the summer and expects to be in the mix for a title at #1 singles at PAC Championships.
"We will be headlined by Maria at both #1 singles and doubles," said Forsty. "Her goal coming in is to win the title at #1 singles and she is working hard to get there. She came back to school in good shape and did a lot of things over the summer to get better, so there is no doubt she will be our best chance to score points at PACs."
Besides Vallone, the only holdovers from last year's team are sophomores Jordan Jones (Baltimore, Md./Landtowne) and Kaitlin Tate (Falling Waters, W.Va./Hedgesville), who was on the team but did not see action in a match. Jones saw limited time on the court, going 2-3 in doubles competition and 0-4 in singles play.
"Jordan and Kaitlin are in their second year with us," said Forsty. "With a year of experience, we hope they can use that to develop and be contributors in the line-up."
The rest of the Bison roster include several first-year players, including senior Dee Gamble (McMechen, W.Va./John Marshall), sophomore Allison Snyder (Newcomerstown, Ohio), who joins the program after a season on the volleyball team, junior Amber Ridings (Inwood, W.Va./Mussleman), and German transfer student Sarah Geier.
"The rest of our players are in their first year with the team and have potential, but will have to make the adjustment to playing college tennis," said Forsty. "Allison was on the volleyball team last year. She is 6-1 and a good athlete, so she covers the court well and is an aggressive player at the net. Amber is a very consistent hitter for her first year on the team and Dee has flashed some ability and hits the ball hard from the baseline.
"Sarah continues a nice tradition we've started here with German exchange students," said Forsty. "They are on campus for a semester and add to their experience here by playing on the tennis team. We've been fortunate to add some very talented players to the program, even if it is only for a semester, and we think Sarah can contribute like many have in the past."
The Bison started the season Sept. 1 by hosting Franciscan and open the PAC slate Sept. 4 when Westminster comes to Bethany for a match at the Ewing Tennis Center on campus.
(Article is re-printed with permission from Bethany College's Sports Information.)