One year after bowing out of the NCAA’s Sweet 16, the women’s tennis team is hoping that a trio of its top stars will lead the squad to its second Big 12 championship since 2005.
In singles, the team will be headlined by senior All-American Aeriel Ellis, who comes into the season ranked 20th by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. Ellis, a California native, had a strong showing during her junior season, taking a pair of victories in the NCAA singles tournament and picking up her second consecutive ITA singles All-American honor. It was also the second year in a row she’d reached the round of 16 in the NCAA tourney.
While Ellis’s 2011 record, at 20-17, may appear middling, many of her contests came against the top players on opposing squads, rarely facing any of the less talented women at the bottom of the ladder. Ellis also earned a pair of sportsmanship awards and has qualified for every national championship event during her first three years at UT.
On the doubles side, the ITA pegged all-conference sophomores Lina Padegimaite and Noel Scott as the 18th-best doubles pair in the country. The two finished the season at No. 41 last year, going 5-3 in conference play and earning All-Big 12 doubles honors. Padegimaite also placed 104th in ITA’s singles rankings, coming off of a year in which she posted a remarkable 21-5 record, good enough to find her as the 2012 Big 12 Conference Freshman of the Year.
The season began this weekend, with the squad heading to North Carolina for the three-day Duke Invitational—where Scott lost the singles finals to Duke’s Hanna Mar. The women will then return on Sept. 21 to host the Longhorn Invitational, which will run through the 23rd.