The Long Beach State women’s tennis team will get its first bit of play this Friday at the three-day Cal NIKE Invitational in Berkeley, Calif.
This weekend’s event marks the first time LBSU will be competing since its Big West Conference Championship loss to UC Irvine last May.
The ‘Niners will enter the competition led by sophomore Jaklin Alawi, who was named Big West Freshman of the Year last season. Alawi completed last season with a 21-12 overall record in singles and a 5-6 record last fall.
Anais Dallara is another standout expected to help the 49ers this weekend. The junior held a 20-8 record last season and spent most of the year in the No. 2 singles slot. Dallara played five matches in the No. 1 spot.
“These games are to make progress as a team, and continue making progress into the spring season,” 49ers head coach Jenny Hilt-Costello said. “The Cal NIKE Invitational will be a good opportunity for players to take advantage and boost standings.”
The Cal NIKE Invitational will be a chance for the 49ers to see teams outside of the Big West. Teams competing in the invitational include Arizona State, California and Minnesota.
After losing the Big West title last year, Costello said, “I took a hard look into last year, and by mid-March we got tired. We want to be peaking by April when we play the Big West.” The 49ers fell one game short of winning their seventh consecutive Big West title last year.
“The wrong team won the Big West tournament last year,” Costello said.
The 49ers spent two weeks conditioning outside of the tennis courts before beginning this week’s on-court practice.
Each player on the roster, outside of sophomore Klaudia Malenovska, has at least one year of experience under her belt.
“The sophomores look more confident this year, they know what to expect,” Costello said. “Everyone is coming back this year to redeem themselves.”
After an eight month eligibility struggle with the NCAA, Malenovska will be starting this season with the 49ers. Malenovska, a two-time champion from Slovakia, is ranked No. 53 in the ITF rankings.
Junior Rachel Manasse is the only member on the eight-player roster not making the trip to Berkeley. Manasse is recovering from hand surgery.
The ITA/Riviera All-American Tournament will be the 49ers’ next competition following this week’s Cal NIKE Invitational beginning Oct. 5.