Jan. 22, 1998
Boilers Kick Off '98 Season Southern Style
To be the best you have to play the best. That is the philosophy of Mat Iandolo, Purdue women's tennis coach. Iandolo leads his pupils into the 1998 spring season this weekend when the Boilermakers face 17th-ranked South Alabama in Mobile on Jan. 24 and 12th-ranked Tennessee in Knoxville on Jan. 25. Purdue enters the season ranked 50th in the nation.
Leading the Boilermakers will once again be Mary Beth Maggart. Now a senior, Maggart is still Purdue's top singles player. The two-time All-Big Ten, Academic All-Big Ten and Big Ten Sportswoman-of-the-Year has compiled 68 wins in her three-year career as a Boilermaker and was ranked as high as 38th in the nation last season.
"Mary Beth has been such a strong and consistent player for us over the years," says Iandolo. "She is so consistent that we almost take her for granted. But that all comes because she is one of, if not the hardest workers on our team."
Joining Maggart at the top of the lineup is sophomore Jennifer Embry. Embry had a standout rookie campaign for the Boilermakers, compiling 24 wins, eight in the competitive Big Ten schedule. After a challenging schedule on the fall circuit, Iandolo believes Embry will be back in full swing this spring.
"Jennifer had a tough fall in terms of records," says Iandolo, "but she was playing against the top competition in the nation. She was challenged physically and mentally,and I think she will be a much better player because of those rigors. The fall has made her that much more hungry to prove herself this spring."
Shannon Taheny will occupy the third singles position for the Boilermakers. Taheny struggled last spring, but strong performances in the fall boosted her confidence. The sophomore won nine matches in the autumn afterreaching the semifinals in two ITA Summer Circuit tournaments.
"Shannon has improved tremendously," says Iandolo. "Last year was tough on her because she had to play high in the lineup which is very hard for a lot of freshman. But she worked real hard last summer and fall and is looking for that to pay off for the team."
Rookies Erika Quebe and Lisa Walgenbach will play in the No. 4 and No. 5 spots, respectively. Quebe amassed a 10-4 fall record and won the Notre Dame Eck Tennis Classic in her collegiate debut. Quebe, a native of Indianapolis, was the Indiana state champion in 1997, completing her senior season at Perry Meridian without dropping a set. Walgenbach, who hails from Carmel, California, went undefeated (180-0) as a prepster. "Erika and Lisa bring a lot of talent and depth to our team," saysIandolo. "Erika had a great fall and hopefully she can keep up that pace. They will both be major keys to our success."
Rounding out the lineup is Hally Cohen. Cohen, a senior, posted a 6-5 record in the fall and has won 47 matches in her career as a Boilermaker. "Hally is crucial for us," says Iandolo. "There is no doubt that we need her to step up if we plan on challenging in the Big Ten."
Purdue takes on the Jaguars and Volunteers this weekend, then plays at Drake on Jan. 31. The Boilermakers' first home match is Feb. 15 vs. Auburn. The Big Ten season kicks off on Feb. 28 at Wisconsin.