Women’s tennis opens its 2012 season today at Cal Lutheran University. The Hens, ranked second in the west and ninth anticipate a strong season, having gained two first-years and lost no players.
Ann Lebedeff, the program’s head coach since 1998, is taking a sabbatical during the spring, and long-time assistant coach Brittany Biebl PO ‘07 will fill the head coach position while Becca Lange PO ’09 returns to the team as assistant coach.
“I’m thrilled to be working with the P-P women’s tennis team again this year, and I greatly appreciate the chance to take a head coaching position as Coach Ann Lebedeff is on sabbatical for the season,” Biebl said.
Biebl played for the Hens for four years and remained with the team for the last four years as assistant coach while earning an M.B.A. from Cal Poly Pomona. In 2009, she was named ITA National Assistant Coach of the Year and was named ITA West Assistant Coach of the Year in 2011.
Lange, who is studying at the Claremont Graduate University, said she is excited to be back with the team after two and half years. During Lange’s four years at Pomona, she was a three-time All-American and collected a series of ITA awards, including West Region Rookie of the Year in 2006, West Region Player to Watch in 2007, Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship and Leadership Award in 2008 and West Region Senior Player of the Year in 2009.
“It definitely felt a little weird at first being back at the colleges and going to school again, but I think I have found my place as a coach here,” Lange said. “Biebl has definitely helped me with the transitions as a close friend and mentor.”
This year’s team boasts a deep lineup. The entirety of last year’s lineup is back, in addition to first-years Kira Woods PO ’15 and Marissa Cohen PO ’15.
“I am very impressed with the depth of our team,” Lange said. “I feel that everyone on the team could play in the lineup.”
The lineup includes Jamie Solomon PZ ’13, two-time All-American in singles and doubles, and Kara Wang PO ’13, two-time doubles All-American. The doubles team of Solomon and Wang finished the 2011 season ranked tenth nationally, while Solomon finished 14th in the singles national rankings.
“Jamie Solomon returns to the team from studying abroad in Beijing, and she’s playing better than ever,” Biebl said.
Biebl has seen improvement since last season in many returning players.
“I’m excited for some individuals who have made big breakthroughs in their games since last season and last fall,” Biebl said.
The Hens did not lose anyone to graduation, adding to the team’s sense of unity and familiarity, Lange said.
“It’s really nice that all our doubles teams played together last year since we didn’t graduate anyone,” Lange said. “We have a very experienced team overall. Also, the doubles look very good for being so early in the season.”
Team captains this year are seniors Nicole Holsted PO ’12, Ellie Shanholt PO ’12, Emily Kawahara PZ ’12 and Chelsey Kitazawa PO ’12. Each has played for the Hens for at least two years prior to this season.
“The team leadership is incredibly strong, and the team as a whole is working extremely hard and having a ton of fun,” Biebl said. “They’re truly a joy to work with every day.”
The Hens come off a successful 2011 season, highlighted by winning the SCIAC tournament and reaching the quarterfinals of the Division III National Championship.