Terps Face Rams
Feb. 28, 2013
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - After a weekend split against No. 46 Columbia and Richmond, the Maryland women's tennis team (4-3, 0-1 ACC) hits the road for a Friday tilt against No. 52 VCU. Play is scheduled to begin from the Tennis Center at 3 p.m.
"We're looking to play as a team, fight hard and basically just to implement everything we've been working on for the last few weeks," head coach Daria Panova said. "I think it's the time that we're going to turn things around."
Last Time Out
The Terrapins went 1-1 over the weekend, dropping a Saturday contest to Columbia, 6-1, before rebounding to defeat Richmond by the same score on Sunday.
Against the Lions, the Terps never got on track, losing the doubles point before falling in five of six singles matches. Senior Vroni Van Berlo was the only bright spot for Maryland, defeating Bianca Sanon, 4-6, 6-4, (10-7).
On Sunday, the Terrapins found their footing and waxed the Spiders. After losing the doubles point, the Terps rebounded in singles, taking all six matches. Van Berlo recorded her sixth victory of the season while Sarah Gealer notched her first win at No. 2 singles, a 6-3, 7-5 triumph over Anna Abadias. The win moved the Terrapins home record to 4-1.
Five freshmen will be integral to Maryland's success this season. Sarah Gealer, the only freshman who played during the fall season, is joined by spring newcomers Olga Gaistruk, Gabriela Srodowski, Olga Bredikhina and Nataliya Bredikhina.
Gealer and Srodowski, the former from Los Angeles, California, the later from California, Maryland, have been solid as the Terrapins' No. 2 double team for most of the year. The Bredikhina sisters formed the No. 3 doubles team in the Terps' first four matches before being elevated to No. 2 doubles against Towson.
More recently, Gealer has moved up to team with Senior Vroni Van Berlo to form Maryland's No. 1 tandem. Gaistruk and Srodowski now play at No. 3.
In singles, the freshmen have combined for a 22-13 overall record. At home, they're 20-5.
"They just have to keep bringing the energy and a sense of urgency to every single match," assistant coach and former Maryland standout Maros Horny said. "They can be a little nervous to start the match, but the energy will make the nerves go away."
Maryland's two upperclassmen will serve as mentors for their young teammates this season, but in different ways.
Vroni Van Berlo Berlo has been a source of stability for the Terps this season, accumulating 6-1 singles record A native of the Netherlands, Van Berlo has held down the No. 1 spot in the Maryland's singles and doubles lineups, and won her first ever match against a ranked player when she defeated No. 116 Jessica Wacnik of Boston College, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.
Junior Welma Luus will not be on-court this spring, but will still play an integral part in the Terrapins' development this season. The Pretoria, South Africa native, who was ranked as high as No. 15 nationally in doubles last year, will serve as a key source of guidance for her younger teammates.
Under New Management
Daria Panova became Maryland's third women's tennis head coach in three years when she was named to the top position on August 13, 2012.
Panova brings a sterling resume to College Park. The former Oregon standout was a two time All-American and the 2003 Pac-10 Player of the Year while in Eugene. The Moscow native is also the winningest singles player in Oregon history with an impressive 94 victories.
After graduating from Oregon in 2005, Panova served as a volunteer assistant for the Ducks. She then moved to the University of Minnesota, where for the past five seasons she has made her home as an assistant coach. Panova helped lead the Gophers to their first NCAA tournament appearance in nine years last season.
The Terrapins are 2-6 against VCU since 1998, the last meeting a 7-0 Rams victory in 2008.
Scouting the Rams
For the second straight week, Maryland will face the No. 52 team in the country as they travel to Virginia Commonwealth. The Rams enter Friday's contest off of a 6-1 defeat to Penn State last Saturday. Against the Nittany Lions, Olga Barscheuskaya and Daria Yakauleva played No. 1 doubles, helping VCU win the doubles point.
In singles, the Rams will have a variety of talented options the Terrapins will have to deal with. Sophomore Cindy Chala, the 89th ranked singles player in the nation, has received the most work at No. 1 singles this season, but took a loss against Penn State. VCU also has veteran experience in the form of senior Josefin Hjertquist, who played in the No. 2 singles position last time out. this year.
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