Challenging Weekend on tap for Kansas Tennis

Sept. 30, 2010


After a brief hiatus, Kansas women’s tennis will be back in action this weekend when the team travels to Notre Dame’s Eck Classic.

However, two Jayhawk tennis players will be noticeably absent, as Ekaterina Morozova and Erin Wilbert will forgo South Bend, Ind., in favor of sunny Los Angeles, where the two of them will compete in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Women’s All-American Championships.

“This weekend is going to challenge everybody,” said head coach Amy Hall-Holt. “The team definitely knows that they are going to be playing against more upscale, higher-level players at Notre Dame. And Erin and Kate will be up against some of the best players in the country.”

Morozova and Wilbert is only the second KU tandem to make it to the All-American Championships. In 2007, Elizaveta Avdeeva and Edina Horvath, at the time ranked No. 36 in the country, made the qualifying round but were eliminated in their opening match.

This year’s duo will have a tough journey to the finals, needing to win three matches in the prequalifying round and an additional three in the qualifying round to advance to the main draw. Morozova will be faced with additional competition, playing in the prequalifying bracket as well.

But the duo, who went 11-11 competing in the No. 1 doubles position last season, will travel to the West Coast with a positive mindset, as the selection for the elite national event has given them a confidence boost.

“Kate has a whole new focus about her,” Hall-Holt said. “It’s very exciting to watch. Even when she’s just preparing for practice, you can tell how focused she is. She’s just very, very excited.”

Hall-Holt is confident in her players as well, given their complementary styles of play. Morozova features a strong power game, while Wilbert’s control provides the balance.

“They so much complement each other when they’re playing,” Hall-Holt said. “Because of her hard-hitting game, Kate can set up the points for Erin to put balls away.”

The rest of the team will face a difficult slate in South Bend, competing against the Fighting Irish, Ohio State, Miami (Ohio) and Dayton. With the first tournament in the books, the focus now shifts to improvement. The Jayhawks are going into this weekend’s tournament looking to execute game plans and adapt strategies. Hall-Holt is also looking for consistency out of the young group.

“It can’t just be a power, hard-hitting game. There has to be a strategy behind it,” Hall-Holt said. “You’ve got to focus on who you’re playing, come up with a game plan and stick with it. And that’s something that some of these young players are new to.”

Hall-Holt saw the consistency that she wanted from her returners in the KU Invitational, most notably sophomores Victoria Khanevskaya and Sara Lazarevic, but also with sophomore transfer Monica Pezzotti, who made it to the finals of the Jayhawk Singles Flight and the Blue Doubles flight with first-time partner Lazarevic.

“She’s got a very strong power game,” Hall-Holt said. “At USC-Upstate, she played top in their lineup and she wants to stay on top, so it’s really made her more competitive.”

The Jayhawks will open play in the Eck Classic Friday morning, at Notre Dame’s Eck Tennis Pavilion. All-American Championship prequalifying rounds will be held Saturday and Sunday at the Los Angeles Tennis Center.

Click here to read a Q&A with Morozova and Wilbert about competing in the ITA All-American Championships.