UMass tennis return nine players, three recruits

By Scott Cournoyer

Amanda Joinson/Collegian
Behind great depth and experience, Massachusetts coach Judy Dixon believes her team will have a strong season in 2010.

With nine returning players and three recruits who can create immediate impacts on the program, Dixon believes this team may be the deepest and most talented she’s ever had under her reign at UMass.

“We have a group of really great ladies who can play tennis under tight pressure, and that’s what it’s going to take to get to where we want to go; being able to play well enough to win during crunch time,” Dixon said.

Dixon is looking to put everyone on an equal playing field going into the regular season, with several talented players throughout the roster.

“It’s a good problem to have, but not an easy one by any stretch,” Dixon said. “We have [players] coming back who had spots set in stone last year, where this year that’s not going to be the case. You have to find a way to give everyone a fair shake in the fall in order to evaluate who goes with who best in doubles, as well as who deserves to be at the top in singles. It’s just the best way to go about seeing who we are as a team.”.

Leading the way for Dixon’s squad is co-captain Candynce Boney, who ranked second on the team last year in singles wins (16), while also taking home an Atlantic 10 All-Conference first team award. 

“[Boney] is one of the toughest and competitive players I’ve had in quite some time,” Dixon said. “She never gives up a point without a fight and our younger players will definitely look to her during big matches.”

Other returning players include Kaitlyn Carpenter and Jocelyn Providence, who compiled over 20 wins last year for the Minutewomen. Carpenter finished last season with a 14-11 record, teaming up with Providence at No. 3 doubles to produce a 5-1 record.

“Carpenter and Providence have great chemistry on the court together, and I expect them to do the same this year for us,” Dixon said.

The head coach recalls Providence’s A-10 tournament match against Saint Louis, where she forced a 10-point tiebreaking third set, but had to endure an hour and 45 minute tornado warning delay.

 “To have that long of a delay and still go back out there under the situation, that shows me toughness to never settle for anything less than winning. That’s what I want for all my players,” Dixon said.

Three new additions to the squad include Jessica Podlofsky, Clara Matias and Yuliana Motyl, whom collectively Dixon calls the best recruiting class she’s ever had.

“These three new players for us have a chance to step in right away and make an impact,” she said. “That’s how good they are.”

Motyl leads the class with terrific baseline play, as well as a top 500 ranking in the International Tennis Federation world junior circuit. The freshman is expected to come in and compete right away for the No. 1 singles position.  

Matias “has a calm demeanor on the court and will help make a difference for the squad as a whole,” according to Dixon. The Barcelona native has been ranked as high as in the top 50 in the Spanish National Ranking.

          Podlofsky comes in with a 154th ranking in the 2010 national recruiting class. The Port Washington, N.Y. native brings a gritty mentality, hard work ethic along with toughness. Podlofsky is expected to compete towards the bottom half of the order for singles and doubles.

The team, according to Dixon, must work on doubles play, as well as solidifying positions in both singles and doubles over the course of the next few weeks before conference play.

“Doubles play is so important in collegiate tennis and with only one real combination coming back this year, that’s our first goal; to figure out where everyone needs to be slotted,” Dixon said.

The team opens conference play against Rhode Island on Oct. 13 in Kingston, RI, which by then Dixon hopes to have a clearer outlook of where her team is compared to the rest of the conference.

“Hopefully by then we will have a real gage of where we are and where we are going,” Dixon said. “We have some invitationals and matches with other schools before URI, so hopefully by then we will be in full gear.”

Dixon believes that this year’s crew of players has what it takes to win the A-10 title and that’s become the main goal for every one of the players this season.

“We’ve got a chance here to not only go farther than we’ve ever gone, but to elevate this program to a whole new level it’s never been before, and that’s something to be really excited about,” Dixon said.

 Scott Cournoyer can be reached at [email protected]