Marquette Women’s Tennis: A lot has changed since last UIC meeting

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Freshman Ana Pimienta (above) paired with senior Gillian Hush to form a successful doubles pair. Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.

The fall campaign served as an opportunity for coach Jody Bronson to assess the game of her new players. Freshmen like Ana Pimienta arrived and blended in well with the few upperclassmen on the team. The squad of players that Bronson has on her hands for the 2012 spring season falls under the young category.

When Marquette’s women’s tennis team faces Illinois-Chicago this Saturday at the Helfaer Tennis Center, it will be a match up of youth against experience. Chicago carries four seniors on its team as opposed to Marquette’s two, Gillian Hush and Olga Fischer.

The Marquette lineup will be much different since the two teams last met in Jan. 2011, when the Golden Eagles topped Illinois-Chicago 4-3. Hush posted a singles win in the last meeting and could share some of her knowledge of the opposition with her teammates.

A player not involved in that 2011 meeting, Pimienta did not seem out of place at the IU Winter Invitational last weekend. She went undefeated in singles play and paired up with Hush for a doubles match victory.

Hush pointed out that the team chemistry is at a peak as she admired her entire team’s play over the weekend.

“Everyone’s been playing really well and very consistent,” Hush said. “Everybody comes into practice with the best attitude, knowing we need to get better every time.”

Consistency was a question for this team in the fall, and Saturday will determine who falls above and below the mark that was set for themselves before first match of 2012.

Pimienta could be the key to the matches against Illinois-Chicago and Wisconsin-Green Bay. Bronson looks even further than that and could see her stepping up as a leader on this team.

“She’s very capable of (stepping up). She hates to lose. She’s very hard on herself. As a coach, I have to say very little, because she knows. In the same respect, she’s very coachable,” Bronson said. “Those types of players are the ones that are going to continue to get better and be very successful.”

The doubles partners have not been announced, but Hush will be paired with a new partner this year. It could be Pimienta after their close match together in Indiana.

Between her experience as a national doubles champion in Mexico and her recent doubles match with Hush, Pimienta has an edge most freshmen do not have.

“Gill (Hush) and I do a really good doubles. (Playing with Hush) gives me a lot of confidence when I’m on the court,” Pimienta said. “She has a really strong shot, so that helps me finish for points and vice versa.”

The lineup will be very different for Marquette as Bronson continues to juggle doubles partners and who plays in what slot. Chicago could be in for a few surprises with the raw talent, but Bronson’s ultimate goal of winning remains the same.

“We expect (UIC) to step up to the challenge. If you’re playing great, or maybe not so great, the whole idea is that you find a way to win,” Bronson said.

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