Wichita State women’s tennis coach Colin Foster is in no hurry to find his No. 1 player. It’s a big job replacing three-time Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year Lutfiana Budiharto, and WSU’s heavy work doesn’t start until the spring.
Foster is heartened by his team’s first tournament, when freshman Rebecca Pedrazzi finished second in the A Flight at the Drake Fall Invitational.
“We’ve got a handful of players that are capable of playing in the top of the lineup,” Foster said. “The fortunate thing is we don’t need to set that any time soon.”
Foster, who recruited while the team played in Des Moines last weekend, is still learning about Pedrazzi, from Modena, Italy. He sees a player without obvious weaknesses.
“She moves very well around the court and anticipates well,” Foster said. “Powerful game. Good serve. Big forehand.”
Pedrazzi defeated South Dakota’s Hafsa Laraibi and Drake’s Klavdija Rebol, a junior named to the Missouri Valley Conference All-Select team last spring. Northern Illinois sophomore Nelle Youel defeated Pedrazzi 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the final.
“It’s wonderful being here,” Pedrazzi said. “It’s a great opportunity to study and play tennis.”
WSU, which doesn’t have a senior, returns MVC champions at four spots. Lucia Kovalova, the MVC’s Freshman of the Year, played No. 3 singles. Veronika Blaskova (No. 4), Satjaporn Mahajaroenkul (No. 5) and Carla Venticinque (No. 6) are also back.
WSU plays in the Kansas Invitational beginning Friday.
Time for change — Men’s tennis player Matheus Pereira is winning doubles matches again. That’s only worth mentioning because he is playing with a new partner, freshman Alvaro Gutierrez.
They teamed up to win the Racquet Club Collegiate Invitational last weekend in Midland, Texas, defeating a duo from Tulsa ranked No. 50 nationally in the semifinal.
“The first match we played down there in Texas, we started very slow,” Pereira said. “After every match, we were playing better and better and better. In the final, we played our best match.”
Pereira played the past three seasons with David Cavalcanti. They went 39-12 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the ITA Championships last fall. Pereira and Gutierrez will try to duplicate that success this month in Tulsa.
“I can say, me and Alvaro, we are pretty good together even through we’ve been together two or three weeks,” he said.
Notes — WSU’s volleyball team puts two long win streaks on the line this weekend at Koch Arena. On Friday, WSU plays Evansville, which has lost 11 straight matches in Wichita. Saturday, Southern Illinois visits. WSU won 20 straight over SIU, nine at home. Edmond (Okla.) Memorial forward Shaquille Morris did not visit WSU last weekend due to an illness, coach Shane Cowherd. Cowherd said Morris expects to reschedule.