Jan. 6, 2010
By Brian Ormiston
Doerfler at the OTC
Nickitas and Frisell Photo Gallery
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - As the UCF women's tennis team gets ready for the spring opener Jan. 16-18 when the UCF Quad Tournament kicks off, head coach Stephanie Nickitas and her players were very busy both last fall and over the break.
Freshmen Jenna Doerfler and Allison Hodges both hit the courts in separate events during the holidays. Doerfler participated in the Tennis Spectacular at the Orlando Tennis Center Dec. 17, which featured several world-ranked tennis players (photo gallery above).
Hodges, meanwhile, earned the doubles title with partner Ashley Murdock of the University of Memphis at the Southern Adult Indoor Tennis Open in Memphis. That enabled the duo to earn a wild card spot into the qualifying round of the professional tournament at the club Feb. 12-21. That event features players such as Maria Sharapova and Andy Roddick.
And in the fall, Nickitas and junior Jenny Frisell went head-to-head in an exhibition doubles match at the Winter Park Racquet Club. Nickitas teamed with John Isner while Frisell joined forces with Robert Kendrick, both of which are regulars on the professional ATP Tour (photo gallery above).
For a recap of some of the community service work the Knights took part in, as well as a glimpse into the spring campaign, check out the below Q&A session with Nickitas.
What were some of the community service activities that your team was involved with this fall?
"We had the opportunity to go to the Ronald McDonald House and cook a meal for the families that were staying there. The RMH provides accommodations for families with loved ones that are getting treatment at the Florida Hospital. They provide such a valuable service to these families that cannot afford to stay in hotels and pay for meals for days or week at a time.
"Some of our individual athletes also participated in the Knights Give Back campus-wide service project and also helped with the athletics department's canned food drive."
Was it tough to go from playing a very competitive fall schedule to the holiday break when you won't practice as a team again until Saturday, Jan. 9?
"Yes, the long break is quite difficult. Even though tennis is considered a spring sport, we compete year round and the break in continuity is tough. Our players have to be disciplined to keep up their fitness as well as their match play. We start team practice on Jan. 9 and compete eight days later- it's not a long time to get ready. They know how important it is to keep things going during the break."
During the break, how does strength and conditioning coach, Ben Fleming keep the players in shape? Was there a schedule that the players go by each day?
"Coach Fleming gives each player an individualized strength & conditioning program that they can take home for the break. They each have specific things that they are working on in reference to their fitness levels and coach Fleming does a great job designing programs that benefit each player."
You seem to have had a busy schedule yourself over the break. As the head coach what were your plans for the holiday?
"Yes, my break was quite busy. It started with recruiting at the Eddie Herr International Championships at the end of November. I attended the ITA Operating Committee meetings at our convention in Naples then recruited again in Phoenix at the USTA Winter Nationals between Christmas and New Year's. It's nice to be back home and preparing for the season."
You only get to practice for a week before the UCF Quad Tournament starts Jan. 16. What do you plan on working on the most during that week of drills?
"The first few days we will just hit a ton of balls. We will do lots of basic consistency, pattern and rhythm drills. After that we will start playing points to get ready for competition. We will play situational type games as well as full matches. We will also fit a lot of doubles play into the practices."
The team only travels outside of Florida once during the season. That has to be an advantage for your players to be able to compete in the Florida weather almost all year long.
"It's certainly a big advantage to play at or near home a lot. We love to play in the heat, especially against teams from father north that have been playing indoors and are not used to the sun, wind and heat."