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Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - page 2

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Season Preview
new foursome adds depth, talent
to women’s tennis team

Like many senior college athletes, Lindsay Schmidt of the Muhlenberg women's tennis team feels her career has gone by too fast and isn't ready for this to be her last season. And it doesn't help that she sees a reminder of her freshman year every day at practice.

In 2008, after finishing under .500 overall and 5-5 in the Centennial Conference the previous year, the Mules brought in a
Caitie Druker
Druker went 7-3 at No. 1 singles in the tough Centennial Conference last year.
group of four freshmen - Schmidt, Caitie Druker, Sara Sutker and Danielle Winston - who were part of the lineup from Day One and became the cornerstone of the program. The team went 8-2 in the CC in both 2008 and 2009.

Last year, Muhlenberg again finished under .500 (7-8) overall and .500 in the CC. And once again, there is a group of four freshmen - Gabriela Contino, Nina Sanders, Emily Szulman and Lauren Zakheim - ready to step in and return the program to higher standing.

The Mules host Elizabethtown tomorrow and are scheduled to open CC play at Franklin & Marshall on Saturday.

"The past two years there was no one to come in and take our spots in the lineup. This year our lineup is
Lindsay Schmidt
Schmidt has the best career doubles record (44-17) among active players.
going to be pretty deep," said Schmidt. "People might not be playing in matches, but it's not because they're not good enough. Coach will be flip-flopping the bottom singles spots a lot because everyone deserves to play."

At the top of the lineup, the Mules feature Druker and Sutker, who were named to the All-CC second team as a doubles pair last year. Druker, who also earned All-CC second-team honors for her singles play, has a career record of 68-47, while Sutker is 75-41.

Winston (69-37) and Schmidt (64-42) also have impressive career records and are tied with Druker and Sutker for the most career wins in spring dual matches by a doubles team (28).

Doubles play has been a point of emphasis for Muhlenberg in practice.

"Winning in doubles puts a lot less pressure on the singles matches. We've been working on changing our strategy in doubles," said Schmidt. The Mules tried out their new strategy in their pre-Spring Break match against nationally ranked Vassar. "Even though we lost all three, they were close doubles matches, so I think it's working."

Also working is the integration of the freshman class into the team, which has been together since early September.

"They're all very different personalities. We all have fun with them," said Schmidt. "It's good to have people who aren't all exactly the same. It makes it more fun and interesting."

Of course, there's nothing more fun than winning, and the freshmen are ready to help the Mules return to the CC playoffs.

"It was weird losing to teams last year that we beat the first two years," said Schmidt. "All the freshmen are pretty good, and I'm looking forward to having a good season."

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