Tennis pumped over few weekend games to open season

NATCHITOCHES – After a successful fall season, the Northwestern State tennis team is ready to kick off the spring season this weekend with UT Tyler on Saturday and TCU on Sunday.

NSU starts the season on Saturday at 2:00 PM and ends on Sunday at 10:00 AM, both on the TCU campus. NSU was originally scheduled to open with UT Arlington before COVID-19 protocols within the Mavericks program changed the schedule.

The Lady Demons welcomed a nationally ranked recruiting class of three members to mingle with a respected group of five veterans.

NSU coach Jonas BrobeckThe first full recruiting class achieved a No. 9 ranking among mid-major programs by the website TennisRecruiting.net.

Freshman Rozalie Dohnalova, Ayu Ishibashi and Tjasa Klevisar made their mark in the fall league as they adapted to the collegiate game.

“It was huge to have a fall season after I didn’t get one last year, and we played a great fall schedule with a lot of quality opponents,” said Brobeck, who is entering his second year at the helm. “The fall helped the newcomers a lot and the high level of play helped them to acclimate.

“We knew what level they were coming in with national and international play, but they did a phenomenal job of stepping in and competing right away. That fall season will be a stepping stone to what should be a successful spring.”

Dohnalova moved furthest in the ITA Southern Regionals in singles, making the main draw of 32 and winning a set against number 8 seeded Ariana Arseneault (Auburn) in a loss.

She also collaborated with Viktoria Wojcikova in doubles to advance to the round of 16.

Klevisar won her first six singles matches of the fall.

This touted trio joins a recurring group that includes NSU’s top three singles slot players at No. 1 Mariella Minetti, no. 2 Viktoria Wojcikova and no. 3 Dorota Szczygielska.

The Lady Demons will have holes to fill if Judit Castillo Gargallo and Emilija Dancetovic were key players at the back of the singles rotation for several years, earning at least one all-conference roster in their career.

But NSU will be rebuilt from a season in which the Lady Demons finished 7-9 and 5-5 in the league, its first overall loss record since 2006.

“We have a chance to be a great team, and the players know that,” Brobeck said. “If we can focus on ourselves and take care of us day in and day out, we can cause problems for a lot of teams.

“We have high goals, including winning the conference, but we just need to focus on things we can control and do that day-to-day work at a high level.”

Brobeck also learned important lessons in his first season as head coach, lessons that will help him manage the college game still under the caution of COVID-19.

“As a young coach you learn all the time, but I believe that any good coach, no matter how long he has been doing, is constantly learning,” said Brobeck. “Last year was tough for everyone, but we learned a lot about ourselves.

“I’m proud of these girls because they never give up, and it set the tone for the newcomers. This is a close-knit team that already has great chemistry.”

The tough fall competition sets the stage for a competitive opening weekend against UT Tyler and TCU.

“UT Tyler is a very good Division II opponent and TCU is a Power Five member,” Brobeck said. “We’ll start with three really good teams if you throw Tulane in (January 29), but if we start fighting well, we can do some damage against these teams.

“We like quality matches that immediately show where we stand.”

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