Women's Tennis opens season with four newcomers
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Women's Tennis opens season with four newcomers

The Cumberland women’s tennis team opens the 2011 season with just two returning letterwinners and a bevy of newcomers, but second-year head coach Bill McCormick has confidence the old and new faces will mix for success.

Senior Amber Johnson and junior Courtney Schaub are the only two returning players for the Bulldogs, though both bring a wealth of experience to the lineup. Johnson is a three-year letterwinner at CU and posted a 7-4 singles mark at No. 4 last season. She also finished the year 9-7 in doubles and has 20 dual match doubles victories over the last two seasons.

Schaub is a two-year letterwinner for the Bulldogs and became one of the club’s most consistent performers in 2010, claiming eight singles victories at No. 2 and posting an 11-5 doubles mark. She also had 11 doubles wins as a freshman. The Lexington, Ohio, native heads into the 2011 campaign ranked 25th in the South Region in singles.

“Courtney and Amber are both strong players,” McCormick said. “They will fit in the middle of the lineup. Courtney is ranked 25th in the region this year already and should play No. 2 or 3 in the lineup. She’s had pretty good success in the past and we’re hoping she’s going to have a good year again.”

Four newcomers will all play major roles for Cumberland this season, led by freshman Larissa Akari Miura, who will likely play at No. 1 in the singles lineup. Anita Rácz sat out last season after playing at the University of New Orleans as a freshman, while Tais Lacerda Bezerra and Lindsey Gaither will give the Bulldogs a full lineup, something CU had just twice last season.

“We brought in some very good freshmen. We have a new No. 1 player in Larissa and she’s a very strong player, probably good enough to play at a Division I school. Anita played in the top six at New Orleans two years ago. She’ll at least be in our top three. We feel real good about the girls coming in. We have some real competitive players and feel like our team will be improved this year.”

McCormick said the doubles tandems this season may be a little more fluid as the season progresses depending on results and how the players complement each other.

“We’re really trying some new lineups in doubles this year. It’s still in question where we will play each of the girls. At this point in time we have a lineup set, but Courtney is probably going to be playing No. 1 and Amber will likely be playing No. 3. We’re hoping we’ll have three strong doubles teams and will be able to have success all the way down the lineup.”

Cumberland has just two other teams in the TranSouth Conference – Martin Methodist and Bethel University – and will play in the NAIA Qualifying Tournament this year with Lambuth University and five teams from the Appalachian Athletic Conference – Union College, Milligan College, Tennessee Wesleyan, Bluefield College (VA) and Reinhardt University.

“We feel pretty good that we can be competitive and have success against Martin Methodist and Bethel in our league,” McCormick said. “We’re hoping that our new players will get in there and be successful against those teams. That said, there are also some teams in the qualifying tournament that will be very unfamiliar to us.”

The Bulldogs open a very challenging schedule on February 18 at Eastern Kentucky, a slate that includes three Division opponents, one Division II foe and perennial NAIA powers Auburn Montgomery and Lindsey Wilson.

“My goal with the schedule was to play as many ranked teams as we could to give our team a chance to improve our ranking through the year and hopefully qualify through the NAIA Qualifying Tournament or through the rankings to get to the national tournament.”