The expectations were high for the Kansas University women's tennis team at the beginning of the 2006-2007 season, being ranked in the top 60 in the nation at the start of the spring season.
However, injuries befell members of the squad, which was reflected in their record of 4-17 for the year.
With the team healthy and under the leadership of three solid seniors, the expectations are sure to be great once again this year.
"We're just looking forward to getting a good atmosphere going with the team this year and with what we had to go through with the injuries last year," KU tennis coach Amy Hall-Holt said. "I think the girls are excited to get back on track playing tournaments and getting back into workouts and trying to overcome from what we dealt with last year."
With the inclusion of a couple of walk-ons that Hall-Holt said will hopefully put a little more intensity into the team, the Kansas coach decided to set up a strong fall season, which includes a showing in the Cissie Leary Tournament, hosted by the University of Pennsylvania.
"We're going to have a very competitive fall season with some really good teams and try to get us up to the next level," Hall-Holt said. "I think by playing a competitive fall it is going to be really good, especially for our incoming girls to see what the competition is like and how they need to step it up for the spring."
One member of the squad is no stranger to having to face some fierce competition is senior Elizaveta Avdeeva, who once again will be slotted in the No. 1 singles position.
"She's definitely looking forward to her senior year and stepping up and creating a lot of positive energy for the team," Hall-Holt said of Avdeeva, who faced a team-high nine ranked opponents in singles action. "She has definitely stepped up her game this summer and wants to do what she can to continue at that high level of playing No. 1 and be successful at it for her senior year. As do the other two seniors (Lauren Hommel and Stephanie Smith)."
Avdeeva again will team up with junior Edina Horvath as the team's top doubles duo.
The tandem finished with a team-best record of 15-7 and an 8-4 record in Big 12 Conference play, the league's second-best record in No. 1 doubles.
"They are so exciting to watch and I think that the energy level is just going get higher and higher for them," said Hall-Holt of her No. 1 doubles, who were named to the All-Big 12 doubles team, which was Avdeeva's second year earning the honor. "They're looking to come back and make some of these big tournaments and have some big wins this year.
"We're definitely looking for a lot out of those two to come back and step up in those positions."
Avdeeva's fellow seniors, Hommel and Smith, also finished the season strong.
Hommel, who played mainly at the No. 4 singles in her junior year, had a late push when she teamed up with sophomore-to-be Kunigunda Dorn in doubles, including a win over Texas A&M;'s 39th-ranked duo of Anna Lubinsky and Nicki Mechem. Hommel was named to the Academic All-Big 12 second team.
Smith, who battled ankle issues throughout the year, primarily played in the No. 6 singles spot and earned a spot on the Academic All-Big 12 first team.
Smith's doubles partner, junior Yuliana Svistun, had a strong sophomore year playing in the No. 5 singles. Svistun went 15-6 in singles play and 9-3 in Big 12. Her 8-3 regular season conference mark was second best in the Big 12 at the No. 5 position.
Hall-Holt said she hoped the summer break would do wonders for her squad to get them going early and leave last year's injury-plagued memories in the past.