Wichita State sophomore Giulia Guidetti knew she deserved to play. That was the easy part. The hard part came when she realized she needed to tell tennis coach Colin Foster.
“To get the confidence, to feel comfortable doing that, it’s not something that came naturally,” teammate Rebecca Pedrazzi said. “Let’s say it was a lot of work behind it. She was talking to me about her feelings and I was like ‘I cannot help you much. You should go and express what you really want to do. You have to do it with Colin.’ ”
Guidetti, from Casinalbo, Italy, wasn’t part of the lineup as a freshman in 2014-15. When she didn’t play in WSU’s 5-2 win over Oklahoma on Jan. 17, her frustrations grew. She talked to teammates, who encouraged her to talk to Foster. Foster considered Guidetti’s point. It took resolve for the sophomore to come to his office and tell her coach she deserved a spot in the lineup.
“It was tough to go and ask to play, but at the end I think it was the right thing to do,” she said. “Colin is really nice all the time, so I wasn’t worried about (nerves). I was more worried if I was going to play or not.”
From that talk in Foster’s office in the Coleman Tennis Complex came some of the ingredients in a record-breaking season.
Guidetti is 38-5 in singles play, topping the 34 wins recorded by Sandy Sadler in 1983-84. Playing mostly at No. 4 singles, Guidetti hasn’t lost since Feb. 11. Her improvement is a key part of WSU’s 27-3 record — matching the total set by the 2005-06 team — and its No. 2 seed in the NCAA regional, WSU’s highest in 10 appearances. The Shockers open NCAA play on Friday against third-seeded TCU (15-6) in Coral Gables, Fla.
Foster considered platooning Guidetti with Tanaporn Thongsing, who played No. 6 singles in the win over Oklahoma. Six days later, he went with Guidetti in matches against Minnesota and Texas A&M. She won both at No. 6 singles and never gave Foster a reason to change his mind.
I like to think I’ve got a very open-door policy, but I’m sure it wasn’t easy for any player to confront the coach about the lineup.”
WSU tennis coach Colin Foster
“I like to think I’ve got a very open-door policy, but I’m sure it wasn’t easy for any player to confront the coach about the lineup,” Foster said. “It was very respectful, but it showed a great deal of confidence.”
Foster started constructing his lineup with the foundation of seniors Julia Schiller, last season’s No. 1, Aleksandra Trifunovic, Abby Stevens and Pedrazzi. Sophomore Gabriela Porubin moved from No. 2 to No. 1 and played well enough to earn a spot in the NCAA singles championships.
“There’s been no senior-itis,” he said. “Life after tennis is approaching, and they have not for a moment let their foot off the gas. Giulia’s had a break-through year and moving up the lineup, now at the No. 4 spot, that’s certainly made a difference. Where ever she’s been in the lineup, she’s winning.”
Guidetti relies on her quickness and anticipation, winning points with her legs.
“I’m a defensive player,” she said. “When matches are tough, I like to run and win the point from the back.”
WSU’s experienced and depth give it a chance to win its first NCAA match since the 2007 team defeated South Carolina 4-3 in Coral Gables. Two seasons ago, WSU lost 4-2 to Oklahoma; last season 4-3 to Georgia Tech.
“I absolutely love every part of my college career,” Pedrazzi said. “We’ve never had a bad practice. People are always into working hard and they embrace how the team is … pushing each other, working for each other. There’s nothing better than that.”
The WSU-TCU winner plays the winner of Miami vs. Quinnipiac at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Wichita State’s men’s team is making its first NCAA appearance since 2013. The third-seeded Shockers (17-10) face second-seeded Arkansas (19-8) on Saturday in Stillwater, Okla. The winner of that match faces either Oklahoma State or Bryant at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Winners of the four-team regionals advance to the round of 16 in Tulsa.
Worth noting — Pedrazzi won the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Central Region Cissie Leary Award for Sportsmanship and is one of 12 athletes nationally recognized for teamwork and spirit. …WSU men’s coach Brad Louderback played at Oklahoma State and served as women’s coach at OSU from 1985-89. Foster was an assistant coach at TCU for three seasons before taking over at WSU in 2009. … TCU freshman Marie Norris is from Burdett, a town of around 300 residents in Pawnee County. She attended high school in Florida to train for tennis. She is 12-10 in singles play, 5-8 at No. 1 singles.
NCAA regional tennis
WSU women vs. TCU
- When: 10 a.m. Friday
- Where: Coral Gables, Fla.
- Internet: ESPN3.com
WSU men vs. Arkansas
- When: 9 a.m. Saturday
- Where: Stillwater, Okla.