January 20, 1999
Lifting the team’s focus to championship level will be the key to this year’s success against top nationally ranked competition, according to head coach Nancy Harris, who is entering her second season at Clemson. “Championship teams have focus, know what is expected of them and have the ability to raise the level of play when challenged,” says Harris. “Focusing means being in the present and using all of today’s energy to fight today’s battles — not yesterday’s and not tomorrow’s,” she explains. “A focused team does not allow insignificant matters to distract it from the opportunity to succeed. Great teams understand the importance of being focused, as the window of opportunity is very brief.” The Tigers return six letterwinners from last season’s team that achieved a national ranking as high as 43rd. Clemson faced nine teams ranked in the ITA’s top-25 last year, including three teams ranked in the top-10, then drew 16th-ranked Tennessee in the first round of the NCAA Southeast Regional.
“Once again we are playing the nation’s best teams,” explains Harris. “To beat the best, our players must believe in their talent, believe they are deserving of success and be willing to make sacrifices. There has never been great accomplishment without sacrifice. I believe this team will be stronger with every match and will get better and better as the season progresses. As a unit, they are going to be strong. They will only realize this as the season develops.” Junior Catherine Galvin returns in the Tiger starting lineup after earning all-ACC honors last season. She compiled a 23-11 overall record, including a 8-1 mark in the ACC.
“Catherine made a great contribution last season,” said Harris. “She took a leadership role in helping the team see what winning was all about. When Catherine meets one challenge at a time she is unbeatable.” Two new players are also going to challenge for positions in the top of the Clemson lineup. “It’s still early to tell who are going to be our top three or four players,” said Harris. Senior newcomer Cecilia Hincapie has already shown her potential through her performance at the National Clay Court Championships in Baltimore. Hincapie went through the prequalifying and qualifying rounds to make the main draw, defeating the 52nd-ranked and 77th-ranked players in the country in the qualifying rounds. She drew the 17th-ranked player in the first round of the main draw, a player that had qualified without going through the qualifying rounds.
“When Cecilia was on her seventh match, the main draw player was on her first match,” said Harris. “Cecilia had been competing for over a week. I think even if she had one day of rest she would have really challenged this player and maybe even upset such a highly-ranked player.” “Cecilia is already demonstrating that she’s playing at the level of the top 100 players in collegiate tennis,” said Harris. “I think her leadership will help this team tremendously.” Freshman Carmina Giraldo will begin playing in January. “Carmina was one of the top Juniors in the world,” said Harris. “We are very fortunate to have Carmina. She is excited about her opportunity to compete at Clemson and eager to begin her collegiate career.” Among Clemson’s other returning players are seniors Kate-Meree Mair and Meredith Chandler. Mair finished the 1998 season with a 14-22 singles record and a 16-16 doubles record. She teamed up with Etresia Kruger for a 7-2 ACC record at number two doubles to tie Wake Forest for the doubles flight two championship.
“Kate-Maree has great hands and is an outstanding doubles player,” said Harris. “She is an experienced player with a great attitude. She is always willing to step in and make a team contribution. I want Kate-Maree to have a great senior year.”
Chandler recorded overall records of 4-8 in singles and 5-3 in doubles competition last year. “Meredith welcomes any challenge and is willing to do whatever it takes,” said Harris. “She is a very hard worker and always has a positive attitude. She is a winner and must create the opportunity to play in the top six.”
Shir Noy, also a junior, played in the lower half of the singles lineup and recorded a 7-9 singles record and a 4-2 doubles record. “Shir is another player with a lot of potential that needs to gain more experience,” said Harris. “She has all the tools she needs to be a great collegiate player. With more experience she will develop a mental poise that will help her be more successful.”
Sophomore Cynthia Clausen had a 4-9 singles overall record and a 5-12 doubles record last year. After competing as a top Junior for the U.S. in high school, her freshman season was shortened due to injuries. “Cynthia is a tremendous young player,” said Harris. “I believe we haven’t even seen or touched the potential she has. She is a diamond that we have not been able to put on the table, and I think she’s going to make a great contribution here at Clemson. She’s someone I’m looking forward to coaching.”
Christina Oldock played in the middle of the singles lineup as a freshman last year. She finished the season with a 13-13 singles record and a 6-14 doubles record. Oldock also competed at the National Clay Court Championships in Baltimore, winning the first two rounds of prequalifying before losing in the final round.
“Christina is very talented,” said Harris. “She is a young lefty that has the potential to be a top 50 player. Christina is well on her way to becoming a great collegiate player, and I think over the next three years she will achieve great recognition for Clemson as a top four player of her time.”
“The opportunity for this year’s team to have a great year exists; one only has to look at the 1999 schedule,” says Harris. Once again, the Tigers will play a very competitive schedule. Of the 20 teams Clemson plays in the spring, eight are ranked in the top 20 in the country. Several of the teams are ranked in the top 10, and a few in the top five. Coach Harris considers the schedule among the nation’s top 10. “It’s a rigorous schedule,” she says. “Week in and week out the players are challenged., and they are asked to play their very best tennis every week. It’s a schedule built for a team that has the experience to deal with the adversity and the challenge that such a schedule brings to the table.
“I think once we get two or three really good wins, that will help our confidence, and once we have that confidence, then we will expect to win,” said Harris. “I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to play against great teams once again. This year is going to challenge our team.” The ACC will again be a tough conference. Duke was ranked second in the country last season, and Wake Forest ranked among the top 10. Harris also expects North Carolina to be an up-and-coming program in the next few years, but every team in the league is ranked, with most of the teams falling in the 30 to 50 range.
“The ACC is solid,” she said. “Every team in the ACC is going to challenge us. The ACC is definitely one of the best conferences in the country to compete in, with great coaches, great teams, and great schools. I think the ACC will help prepare us for the regional championships and the NCAAs.”
The success of the team is in the hands of the players. “With focus, positive attitudes and a great work ethic, these players can achieve anything they would like to achieve,” said Harris.
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