Wichita State women's tennis coach Colin Foster's first spring isn't off to a perfect start. His No. 1 singles player is out for a week or more with a sprained left ankle.
Foster isn't too concerned, however, about the temporary absence of sophomore Lutfiana Budiharto, the top-ranked player in the NCAA Central Region. He knows he has three seniors to keep his lineup strong. And he knows Budiharto will return soon.
WSU opens the season today at Creighton before playing Nebraska and Minnesota this weekend in Lincoln.
Budiharto, from Indonesia, went 16-2 in the fall and won the consolation championship at the ITA Women's All-American Tennis Championships. That performance moved her from No. 120 to No. 28 nationally in the ITA rankings. She went 25-6 and was named Missouri Valley Conference Freshman of the Year in 2008-09.
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"There's definitely no glaring weaknesses in her game," Foster said. "But there's a couple areas she's worked hard to clean up. She's only 5-foot-5, so she's got to get a lot of her power coming from the ground, her legs. She worked hard to get a little stronger, a little better with the footwork so that she's in position and set up for every ball."
Budiharto lifted weights while training in Indonesia, but the equipment, coaching and regimen are superior at WSU.
"I'm stronger, so I can hit harder than back home," she said. "I'm more aggressive."
With Budiharto out, senior Stephanie Dalmacio moves into the No. 1 spot. She is ranked No. 13 in the region. Seniors Lenore Lazaroiu and Florentina Hanisch also return from the defending MVC champions.
Dalmacio went 7-4 in the fall.
"She's earned this opportunity to play in the top spot," Foster said.
Shockers in bottom half — MVC coaches picked WSU's softball team sixth in the preseason poll.
The Shockers (21-32, 10-15 MVC) finished eighth last season. Defending champion Creighton is the favorite. It received eight first-place votes. Southern Illinois is picked second, followed by Northern Iowa, Drake and Illinois State in the top half of the Valley.
WSU junior catcher Heather Gerritse was named to the preseason All-MVC team. She led WSU with a .353 batting average in 2009.
Wichita State opens its season on Feb. 12 with two games in the Centenary Tournament in Shreveport, La. The Shockers open their home schedule on March 15 against Rutgers.
Centenary Tournament, Shreveport, La.
12 — Nicholls State, 3:30 p.m.; Memphis, 5:30 p.m. 13 — Centenary, 3:30 p.m.; Southern, 7:30 p.m. 14 — Houston Baptist, 11:30 a.m.
QTI/Getterman Classic, Waco, Texas
19 — Tulsa, 1 p.m.; Baylor, 5:30 p.m. 20 — Central Arkansas, 10 a.m.; Texas-Arlington, 1 p.m. 21 — Texas-El Paso, 9 a.m.
Texas Arlington Tournament
26 — Texas Southern, 10 a.m.; Prairie View A&M, 12:30 p.m. 27 — Prairie View A&M, 10 a.m.; Texas-Arlington, 12:30 p.m. 28 — Texas-Arlington, 9 a.m.
Texas Tech Tournament
5 — Boise State, 1 p.m.; 6 — Boise State, 11 a.m.; Texas Tech, 3 p.m.; 7 — Texas Tech, noon
10 — at UMKC (DH), 2 p.m.; 15 — Rutgers, 5 p.m.; 17 — at Missouri (DH), 3 p.m. 20 — Northern Iowa (DH), noon, 21 — Northern Iowa, noon, 23 — Oklahoma State, 5 p.m. 24 — Missouri State, 5 p.m. 27 — at Illinois State (DH), noon, 28 — at Illinois State, 1 p.m.
2 — at Drake (DH), noon, 3 — at Drake, noon, 6 — at Tulsa (DH) 4 p.m. 10 — Creighton (DH), noon, 11 — Creighton, noon, 14 — at Missouri State (DH), 5 p.m. 17 — at Evansville (DH), noon, 18 — at Evansville, noon, 20 — at Oklahoma State, 7 p.m.24 — Southern Illinois (DH), noon, 25 — Southern Illinois, noon, 28 — at Kansas (DH), 5 p.m.
1 — Bradley (DH), noon, 2 — Bradley, noon, 8 — at Indiana State (DH), 11 a.m.9 — at Indiana State, 11 a.m. 13-15 — MVC Tournament at Des Moines
Moore honored — WSU sophomore sprinter Audacia Moore was named MVC track athlete of the week.
Moore set a WSU record in the 200 meters (24.46) and tied her school record in the 60 (7.54) in her past two meets. She owns the MVC's top time in the 200.
Valley baseball schedule set — All eight MVC baseball teams will come to Wichita this spring for the conference tournament.
The teams will play in four-team double-elimination brackets. The winners meet in a one-game championship to decide the MVC's automatic bid to an NCAA regional.
The tournament runs May 25-29 with four games a day for the first three days. Game times are 9 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The fourth day of the tournament could feature two "if necessary" games. The championship game begins at 7 p.m.
In past seasons, the top six teams qualified for the tournament.