May 21, 1997
Women's Tennis Moves Forward Despite a Sub-Par Record in 1997
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - After the groundbreaking year of 1996, much was expected out of this year's women's tennis team at the University of Maryland. With youth on its side, things have looked even more exciting in 1997 for the Terps. The team that was made up of three freshmen, three sophomores and one senior may not have improved on last season in the win-loss category, but they came so very close.
The 8-11 record is misleading in more ways than one. Six of Maryland's 11 losses came as 5-4 deficits. If one more point went Maryland's way in each of those matches, the team would have been 14-5. Ten of Maryland's 11 losses came to teams ranked in the Top 58 in the nation, and five of the losses came to teams ranked in the Top 25. Maryland had its share of wins over teams in the rankings, including wins over No. 48 North Carolina, No. 61 Georgia Tech, No. 62 Illinois, and No. 75 Clemson. The 5-4 losses came to No. 24 Harvard, No. 46 Virginia, No. 47 Minnesota, No. 48 North Carolina (at the ACC Tournament) and No. 58 North Carolina State.
1997 marked the second year in a row that the Terps started a freshman at the No. 1 slot. It also marked the second consecutive season, the Terps had a freshman make the All- ACC Team. This year, it was Nashville, Tennessee native Lorraine Bittles, who did not disappoint her high expectations. Although Bittles finished the season 9-10, she went 9-2 against unranked opponents. Three of her losses came to opponents in the Top 25 and two in the Top 10. Bittles went 4-5 in a very tough ACC schedule, consistently playing against the top players in the conference. In the season's final match, Lorraine defeated Harvard's Rosemary She, who is finished the season ranked No. 107 in the nation. Bittles began the season ranked No. 73 in the nation.
Health problems put a huge damper on Maryland's No. 2 player and 1996 All-ACC representative, sophomore Thea Ivanisevic. After winning her first two matches of the season, Ivanisevic was forced to take a three-match hiatus and never was fully able to recover. Ivanisevic posted a 6-10 record and 3-6 mark in the ACC. Like Bittles, Ivanisevic had a tough schedule, playing three women in the Top 93. The toughest test came a Duke, when Ivansisevic took on Karin Miller, who was ranked No. 1. Ivanisevic forced three sets, but lost the third set, by a score of 6-2. Ivanisevic teamed with Liz Henkin in doubles to go 8-5, 5-4 in the ACC and they finished as second runners-up in the No. 3 doubles flight in the ACC.
The Terps stayed stable at No. 3 singles as sophomore Meg Griffin returned to the spot that she held in 1996. Griffin a native of Topeka, Kansas started off the season like a house afire, going 7-2 and 2-0 in the ACC. In that span, Griffin defeated Alabama's Dominique Glinzler, who is currently ranked No. 103 in the nation. Griffin finished the season with 11-8 record, while going 4-5 in the ACC. Griffin teamed with Lorraine Bittles to go 9-7 at the No. 1 doubles spot, beating No. 38 Rosemary She and Ivy Wang of Harvard and No. 41 Kate-Maree Mair and Stefanie Woerz of Clemson..
Much like Ivanisevic, an injury held back the potential of freshman Rachael McArdle. The Newcastle, England, native went 7-5 for the Terps before she injured her hand, putting her on the disabled list for the remainder of the season. As the Terps No. 4 player for most of the year, McArdle showed true promise.
The sole upperclassman of this year's team was senior Liz Henkin. As Maryland's consistent No. 5 player, Henkin compiled an overall record of 9-9, and finished is 7-2 out of conference. Henkin went through a stretch in March in which she defeated Minnesota's Jana Hrdinova, Syracuse's Ann Khvalina, and Clemson's Dervin Carr in a row and all in straight sets.
Maryland's winningest performer, and maybe its biggest surprise was freshman Stacy Walkowitz, from Coral Springs, Florida. Walkowitz brought a 12-6 record to the table and even more impressive conference record of 7-2 which earned Her ACC record earned her runner-up at the No. 6 flight in the ACC. Her only conference losses were to Duke's Luanne Spadea, who finished ranked No. 64 in the nation and North Carolina's Jeni Burnette, who won the No. 6 flight. Walkowitz gained consideration for the All-ACC Team