by Brenna DeLucia
With The University of Tampa women’s tennis team’s 2020 season starting around the corner, some are excited to see what the new season holds for the team and to see if they can build on their successes from last season.
After finishing the 2019 tennis season 12-8 overall and 4-6 in conference matches, UT’s women’s Tennis team is excited to build on and continue last season’s success. As they go into the 2020 season, they are currently ranked seventh in the South Region.
“I have been The University of Tampa’s tennis coach since 1999, which is longer than any previous tennis coach by far,” said Al Dufaux, women’s tennis head coach.
Dufaux will continue as head coach for the 2020 season, and there will be multiple returning athletes in addition to the new athletes.
At UT, tennis holds the spot for the oldest sport being played on campus. When the Henry B. Plant Hotel opened in 1891, there were two grass tennis courts for the guests to play on, according to Dufaux. Those grass tennis courts are now what UT students know as the Vaughn Center parking lot.
“We have a strong team this year at UT and I expect to finish the year in the top 25 in the nation,” said Dufaux. “We have lofty goals for this year and next–if all of our recruiting falls in place, we may crack the top 10 next year.”
Returning athlete, Dakota Busch, sophomore communications major, said that she had “one of the best experiences while playing tennis for The University of Tampa last year” as a freshman and can’t wait to build on those memories and improve this season with her teammates.
“I knew coming into the 2019 season that we were in a really hard conference, considering four of the teams in our conference were ranked 1-4 in the nation and a fifth team was in the top 25,” said Busch.
Busch, along with her fellow teammates, know that if they put in the effort and work really hard that they would come out on top.
Another returning athlete, Lilley Nice, senior political science major, is also extremely excited for the upcoming season, but also feeling nostalgic about starting her last season at UT. Nice has been playing tennis for UT for her entire collegiate career.
Nice said that the fondest memory of her tennis career was “being able to have the opportunity to travel and compete against different girls in Hawaii and California for spring break.”
This season, Busch believes the team is going to be successful and holds a positive outlook, because the team has been training so hard since the fall.
“Our goal [as a team] this year is to be able to compete right up against the top five teams in our conference.” So, the university and women’s tennis fans are looking forward to seeing the team pull through this year and make that goal a reality. UT as a whole is looking forward to the upcoming tennis tournament this weekend and to see what this season holds for the team.
The women’s tennis team will match up against Flagler College next on Sunday, Feb. 9 at 11 a.m. at the Naimoli and Young Family Tennis Complex on UT’s campus.
Brenna DeLucia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org