Upcoming match: San José State (0-0, 0-0 MW) at Hawai'i (1-2, 0-0 Big West)
Date: Saturday, Jan. 23
Time: 11:00 a.m. HT/1:00 p.m. PT
Location: UH Tennis Complex (Honolulu)
San José State University's women's tennis team opens the 2016 dual match season with a visit to Hawai'i on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. PT.
The Spartans, who enter the season ranked No. 72 in the country, will take on a Rainbow Wahine team that already has three matches under its belt after playing Baylor, Nevada and Washington in the last two weeks.
First-year head coach Chad Skorupka is excited by the combination of an experienced roster and 11 home matches - five more than last year's slate featured.
"It's always nice to be playing on our home courts," said Skorupka, who was elevated to head coach after two seasons as the assistant coach and one as a volunteer assistant. "If we can play consistent at home, especially during the stretch of seven straight matches, it will set us up nicely."
New to the coaching staff but familiar to the program is Julianna Bacelar, who was promoted to assistant coach after spending the fall as a student assistant. Bacelar completed her playing career at San José State in the spring of 2015 and finished with 131 total wins - the second most in program history.
"I think it only helps our university and program to have people that graduated from San José State and on as full-time staff," Skorupka said. "With myself staying part of the program in a different role and Julianna staying on and moving from a player to a coach, it's a consistency that brings a high level of trust for everyone. Her experience as a player makes her relationship with the girls very transparent."
Skorupka and Bacelar will steer the reins of Spartans team that will carry only seven players on the roster in 2016, but will feature high-level players that have the ability to compete for a Mountain West crown.
Gaelle Rey and Marie Klocker enter their junior seasons as the winningest returning players with 93 and 83 victories, respectively. They will reprise their role as the Spartans' top doubles team in 2016, a partnership that over their first two seasons led to them becoming the first doubles tandem in school history to be named all-conference multiple times. Klocker, the 90th-ranked singles player in the country, will play mostly at the No. 2 spot in the lineup, with Rey holding down the No. 3.
Atop the singles lineup will be sophomore Sybille Gauvain. The Frejus, France, native built upon her All-MW Singles debut season with an impressive fall that saw her finish with a 17-9 record.
The trio of Rey, Klocker and Gauvain added to the lone senior on the roster, Justine Deleval, gives the Spartans a skilled, experienced group of core players.
"I look to Gaelle, Marie and Sybille to be leaders on and off the court," said Skorupka. "We only have one senior in Justine, and she's a great person to have on our team. Justine is going to be seeing a lot of playing time. She'll be contributing a lot to this team. Our expectation is one that she'll be successful this year on the court and play for points consistently."
New to the team in 2016 are Marine Dans, Miyo Kobayashi and Andrea Vasiljevic. Dans, a junior transfer from Long Island University, put together a strong fall in which she went 7-4 in both singles and doubles. She figures to hold down the No. 4 spot in the singles lineup and team with Gauvain at No. 2 singles.
Kobayashi, a freshman, went 14-9 in the fall and will play primarily at No. 5 singles and No. 3 doubles. Vasiljevic joined the team in early January and will need time to acclimate to collegiate tennis, but Skorupka envisions her contributing as well.
"I think everyone on this team is going to make a contribution. Andrea's going to help with our depth. Justine and Andrea will be rounding out the lineup on the singles side. No matter who plays No. 1 and who plays No. 6, they both count for a point if you win. We only have seven players for the spring, so it's going to test our depth."