Wrapping up their season on April 9 with a clean sweep against Valparaiso was the quintessential ending to a historical year for the University of South Dakota women’s tennis team.
Their final victory on April 9 gave the Coyotes their 16 win of the season, a Summit League high, and solidified the fifth place slot in the Summit League standings after earning a conference record of 4-4.
“This team was very deep,” head coach Malcolm Gilreath said. “I knew this team would be able to compete week in and week out. They worked hard in practice during conditioning drills and that showed on the court.”
The depth showed not only on the court, but on paper as well.
Five Coyotes completed the season with 20 or more wins, a feat not obtained by any USD team prior.
Freshman Yamini Reddy led the team with her singles record of 29-7, followed by junior Veronika Makashov at 27-9. Freshman Nina Barudzic (20-18), and seniors Alena Sergeychik (26-12) and Shadi Soleymani (24-9) also managed to grab 20 or more wins on the season.
“Everyone fought week in and week out,” Soleymani said. “This year’s team had a very strong will, we practiced harder than ever before which made us physically stronger but also mentally stronger.”
The team proved their mental and physical toughness through the length of the season, travelling heavily with their only home match against Nebraska-Omaha on April 3.
“Travelling frequently definitely proved to be a big challenge,” Soleymani said. “That plus school work wore us out, but we would rest up and were still able to put our best foot forward on the court.”
The season was not without lows, after collecting nine consecutive wins the Coyotes dropped five of seven, including losses to Summit League foes IPFW, UMKC, and Southern Utah.
The Coyotes eventually bounced back, defeating state rival South Dakota State 4-1 in Fort Wayne, Ind. on March 29.
“I think overall we had a successful season,” Sergeychik said. “Maybe even one of our best seasons, and the great thing is we are only improving.”
For 2013 the Coyotes will need replace the experienced presence of seniors Kaityln Deragisch, Ysabel Nunez, Sergeychik and Soleymani.