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PURYEAR EXPECTS RETRIEVER TENNIS TO CHALLENGE FOR AMERICA EAST CROWNS
Senior Aimee Lim has 50 career singles wins at UMBC
Last season, the UMBC women’s tennis program proved to their new conference opponents that their previous six league championships were no fluke. The Retrievers were a solid 13-6 and advanced to the conference title match vs.
In 2004-05, UMBC will have to replace two of its top six players, three-year letterwinners Tia Kaasalainen and Lana Khvalina. “They will be difficult to replace,” said Head Coach Keith Puryear, entering his 14th season as the ladies’ head coach. “The returning players are going to have to step up and move into new roles. By the end of the fall, I think we were headed in the right direction.”
Senior Aimee Lim and junior Alessandra Pedergnana will most likely fill the top two slot in singles and form what could be the league’s best doubles tandem. Lim, who has 50 career singles wins at UMBC, has a lot of power and has learned how to use it wisely. Pedergnana had a great freshman year, but was injured for most of last spring. Now healthy, she brings in 43 wins in two seasons (43-24) in singles and is the kind of player that will fight for every point. The tandem shone at #2 doubles last year, posting a record of 18-6, including 14 in a row to end season. They had captured 16 straight matches, including the Old Dominion Invitational “A” Flight title, until an 8-6 loss to a
Turkish junior Idil Un has some of the best strokes on the team and is working on improving her fitness level to contribute more in the spring.
Sophomore Adriana Fonseca had the best fall of any of the Retrievers, according to Coach Puryear. Fonseca hits a big ball on both sides and has become more comfortable at net. She was 12-7 last year, including 7 straight victories at #5 singles. Classmate Elizabeth Anderson was also playing her best tennis as the fall campaign came to a conclusion. She possesses a big serve, in the 100-mph range, and a complementary tough kick serve.
“Our goal is to win the conference,” said Puryear. “It can be done, but it will be tough.
For much of the last decade, UMBC men’s tennis has trotted out a dominant #1 player. That will not be the case this year, but a developing cast of returning players and Head Coach Keith Puryear’s deepest recruiting class in some time should keep the Retrievers fighting for a conference title in May.
With Josef Novotny, UMBC’s highest regionally ranked player in school history, leading the way, the Retrievers dominated Northeast Conference play, and defeated eventual America East champion
“There is no replacing Josef. He could beat anybody in the country,” said Puryear. “This year’s team will be a little bit deeper. The key will be development of the players. The upperclassmen and the freshmen will have to step up if we are going to be successful.”
Senior Albert Hardja has gone 15-10 in doubles since April 1 of 2002, but Coach Puryear is not counting the
Junior James Tyler is slated to play at #1 singles. Tyler, who is 23-27 in two years at UMBC, has all the attributes to fare well. “James moves well, is strong with a huge forehand , has good pop to his serve and has great hands on the volley. He had a good fall, with some solid wins and I think he gained a great deal of confidence,” said Puryear.
Classmate Mike Keller has ”improved immensely”, according to the Retriever mentor. “He has the biggest serve of anyone I’ve had here, clocked in the 130-range, he just needs to be consistent.” Keller was 8-2 in the lower half of the singles ladder last season, but is now slated behind
Junior Djan Gusmao and sophomore Mehrban Iranshad will attempt to hold off the freshmen to maintain their slots in the lineup. Gusmao has become more consistent and solidified his baseline game He also feels more comfortable coming to the net as evidenced by his appearance in the finals with Iranshad in the Hampton Roads Tournament this fall.
The four freshmen, Fernando Ferriera, Leif Hollowell, David Jackson, and Irfan Shamasdin, could serve as cornerstones for the program. “They are one of better freshmen classes that we’ve had come in,” said Puryear. “They all are hungry, work hard, possess a lot of power and have a great deal of potential.”
They are also basketball-sized players, with the 6’0” Ferriera the smallest of the group. The Brazilian serve-and volleyer had the best fall of the group and relishes the chance to put pressure on his opponent at the net.
Hollowell displays the best work ethic, but at 6’2” and 150 pounds, must get stronger to reach his full potential.
“In addition to size, I like what they all brought to the table,” said Puryear.”
“I feel we can compete with any team in the conference,” concluded the coach, entering his 16th season as head coach of the men. “The 4-1 loss in conference did not indicate the quality of the match.