BYU opens the 2018 season competing in the Metroplex Mania in Dallas. With a deep roster, solidified by a strong group of returning players and skilled new recruits, BYU is on track to be a competitive threat this year.
“I’m very optimistic and looking forward to this season,” BYU head coach Lauren Jones-Spencer said. “This team has a lot of talent and tremendous depth. The potential we have is motivating, and I expect to do great things this year.”
Traveling to compete in the Metroplex Mania are senior Mayci Jones; junior Taylah Beckman; sophomores Kate Cusick, Samantha Smith and Polina Malykh; as well as freshmen Anastasia Abramyan, Hermehr Kaur and Madeline Almeida. Other teams participating are host SMU, University of North Texas and Georgia State. The teams will rotate singles and doubles with matches counting toward players’ individual records.
The Cougars finished sixth in the WCC last season with a conference record of 3-6 and overall finish of 9-14. In the WCC Tournament, BYU reached the semifinals after an exciting upset win over No. 3 seed Saint Mary’s in the quarterfinals. Unfortunately, BYU's tournament run came up short the following round as it fell to No. 2 Gonzaga. The Cougars look to use that experience as motivation for this year’s conference play.
BYU earned a number of awards last season for its excellence in sports and academics. The girls were named ITA All-Academic Team, and six players were named to WCC Commissioner’s Honor Roll, including returning players Beckman, Cusick and Smith.
During the fall 2017-18 season, the Cougars competed in three tournaments. These included the Cal Fall Invitational, the ITA Mountain Regionals and the Jack Kramer Invitational.
The Cougars are excited to have Jones in the lineup after last season was cut short due to injury. In her junior year, Jones was named All-WCC Second Team Singles and WCC Doubles Honorable Mention, and she ,won WCC Doubles Player of the Week for Feb. 9-15 with former teammate Toby Miclat. After limited play this fall, Jones is eager to get back on the court and start the season strong.
This summer, BYU welcomed home sophomore Katie Fitt from her mission in New York. Junior Brittanie Eraso also just completed her mission the beginning of January after serving in Missouri. Returning players from last season include junior Beckman and sophomores Cusick, Smith and Malykh.
Three new freshmen have joined the team, including Abramyan from Moscow, Russia; Almeida of El Dorado Hills, California; and Kaur from Redlands, California. The fall tournaments gave each considerable experience competing at the collegiate level.
Abramyan made some noise in her BYU debut this fall as she reached the Round of 16 in singles at the ITA Regionals and played throughout the fall at first doubles with Cusick. The duo advanced to the quarterfinals of the main doubles draw at the ITA Regionals and the quarterfinals of the main doubles draw at the Cal Fall Invitational.
In their final tournament play of the fall, Cusick and Abramyan had an excellent showing at the Jack Kramer Invitational and reached the finals of the main doubles draw. Along with her doubles play, Cusick also advanced to the Round of 16 in singles at the ITA Regionals.
In their first collegiate tournament, Almeida and Kaur reached the quarterfinals of the Gold singles at the Cal Fall Invitational. Kaur also competed in the Gold doubles at the Cal Fall Invitational with teammate Beckman. The two reached the quarterfinals, but they fell in a close match, 8-7.
The first team match kicks off at home against Weber State on Friday, Jan. 26, at the Indoor Tennis Courts at 11 a.m. Conference play begins Feb. 23, in Portland, Oregon, against the Pilots. The Cougars will take on last season’s WCC champions, Pepperdine, in Malibu on April 14.
The WCC tournament is April 26-28, in Claremont, California.