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Tennis ready to start season

January 22, 2016

 

The Lady Techster tennis team poses for a team photo in front of the Davison Athletic Complex. Tech’s season opens this weekend in Thibodaux–Photo by Donny J. Crowe/LA Tech Communications

The Lady Techster tennis team poses for a team photo in front of the Davison Athletic Complex. Tech’s season opens this weekend in Thibodaux–Photo by Donny J. Crowe/LA Tech Communications

 

ALEX HEARD

Staff Reporter | amh072@latech.edu

 

“This is going to be the best season we have ever had.”

 

Those may seem like bold words from Manoela Chiacchio, a senior on the Louisiana Tech women’s tennis team. However, the team’s depth and togetherness may prove her absolutely correct.

 

Last season Tech had a record of 7-11 as many things went wrong.

 

The team had trouble finishing as there were multiple close losses. In addition, multiple matches were cancelled due to inclement weather and some key players were hurt, like Chiacchio.

 

Chad Camper, head coach of the Tech tennis team, said Chiacchio is coming back this season stronger and better than ever.

 

“Anytime you are injured it changes the way you think and feel on the court,” Camper said. “But Manoela did a great job this summer and is coming back ready. She is a senior with a lot of experience so she brings a lot to the team. I really expect big things from her.”

 

Chiacchio said the work and physical therapy she did during the summer has her ready to go this season.

 

“I feel pretty confident,” Chiacchio said. “I did a lot of rehab. I had to work really hard to get healthier. I lifted weights and my physical trainer has been guiding me.”

 

Camper said the team’s depth triumphs past teams and should bring fear to opponents.

 

“This is the best team we have had,” Camper said. “I think there is a lot of potential. I think a lot of players here are far away from their best tennis. We have plenty of weapons. I am really excited about this year because we have much more depth.”

 

Another player to watch besides Chiacchio is reigning first team All-Conference USA player Alexandra Starkova, a senior.

 

Starkova was recently ranked 20th in the southern region in singles by preseason Oracle/ITA Division I women’s tennis rankings.

 

Chiacchio said Starkova undoubtedly deserves the ranking because of how hard she works.

 

“I am so excited for her,” Chiacchio said. “She works so hard and is such a great player, who is very strong. This is her last year so I really hope she can make it the best and most special one.”

 

Camper said Starkova is primed for another stellar year.

 

“One thing about Alexandra is she can beat anyone on any given day,” Camper said.  “No one can hit it harder than her. She is taking her senior year very seriously and she is focused. At the number one position she will be playing the best players in the nation. We hope for some good win.”

 

Players’ abilities aside, Chiacchio said the team’s inseparability will be a key to success this upcoming season.

 

“We are together so much,” Chiacchio said. “We are all so far away from home, almost all of us are international students, so we are close and have become each other’s family. We count on each other.”

 

Camper said the girls are not a team but more of a family.

 

“I tell the players I am recruiting that all of the girls live together,” Camper said. “They all eat and hang out together. I am surprised they do not fight more because they really are sisters and they love each other. They are a great group of kids and I would not choose to work with anyone else.”

 

Tech’s season begins at noon Saturday in Thibodaux against Nicholls State. The team opens at home in Ruston facing Northwestern State on Feb. 5.

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