Dixie State University’s tennis team has looked far and wide for new blood to bring in to help establish a good team, and the results are starting to show.
Recruits from across the globe, including Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, Serbia, France and others look to better Dixie State’s squad.
With only three returning players from last year, the Red Storm are flaunting a whole new team.
Dixie State is preparing for its 2014 season. The Red Storm will have 11 new women, including nine freshmen, to start this year with 14 players.
“With our team this year, we have a lot more girls, and so we are all pushing each other to get better,” said Sierra Smith, a junior elementary education major from Denton, Texas. “All the girls are working hard to get those top spots. I think our work ethic this year is intense, which is exciting.”
New blood on the team is helping the Dixie State tennis squad to keep its enthusiasm.
“One thing I know for sure about our team is that we are all excited,” Smith said. “Especially all the young girls on the team. We’re excited to get all the experience and dig in and win some matches.”
Head coach Eric Pelton is entering his eighth year coaching for the Red Storm and is hopeful about his new prospects.
“Recruiting-wise, this is the best year we’ve had,” Pelton said. “This is by far the best group of girls we have had over the years.”
Recruits for the Red Storm also include two foreign players on this year’s squad. Returning sophomore Joy Naigeon is from France, and freshman Zenja Draca hails from Serbia.
Pelton recognizes that it is not all up to one player to make the difference.
“It’s a team now,” Pelton said. “It does not matter if one person wins (her) match if nobody else wins. We are not going to win as a team, so it takes everyone. That’s the great thing about college tennis. It’s different. It’s not just you. It’s still individual, but it is a real team sport.”
This year’s 2014 Pacific West Conference tennis competition could be a challenge for the Red Storm. The PacWest Conference has seven teams starting the season ranked in the top 30 nationally. DSU’s rival Brigham Young University-Hawaii is ranked No. 2 in the nation.
“Our main goal at the end of the season is to be one of those top eight teams at the conference tournament,” Pelton said. “We just barely missed it last year, and it was kind of tough, so we are really focused on that goal.”
Coaches and returning players notice that this year could be different with their new team.
“We had a good team last year, but we have even a better team this year,” said Naigeon, a sophomore business major. “We have so many good girls. It’s going to be really different this year; I think we can go really far this year, so I’m pretty excited.”
The Red Storm will begin the season with a five-day tournament in Glendale, Ariz., Feb. 13-17. DSU will play Southern Utah University for its first home match Feb. 20.