The Virginia women’s tennis team opens its spring season this weekend when it hosts the UVa Winter Invitational Saturday-Monday at the Boyd Tinsley Courts at the Boar’s Head Sports Club. The Cavaliers then open the dual match season on Wednesday when they host Old Dominion. VirginiaSports.com caught up with senior Amanda Rales to preview the beginning of the season. Question: With the start of the season this weekend, how excited are you to begin your senior campaign?
Rales: I am very excited. I am always anxious over the break to get back and get the season started. It’s nice to be back with the team and the coaches and get back to practicing and soon playing matches. I am looking forward to one last season and I am hoping it is a good one. Question: You are one of only a few veterans on this team. Does this year feel any different with almost a completely new roster?
Rales: Obviously we have a lot of new faces on the court. We got a chance to play with them and get to know them in the fall and it has been great. They have come in and contributed right away. We are going in a very positive direction with them here. Question: The team had a lot of good results in the fall. What do those results say about what the team can accomplish this spring?
Rales: I think the fall helped us set some of our goals and expectations for each other. We definitely saw everybody on the team have some great moments. It is encouraging for the spring, but we also know what we still need to do to be a great team. Question: Last season, you came from the bottom of the lineup to the No. 1 spot in singles by the end of the year. This season, you started the year nationally ranked. Has it changed your approach this year because you are no longer going to sneak up on people?
Rales: It is definitely nice to be ranked and to feel like people respect my game. There is also a pressure that comes with that. I have goals for myself this season and my focus is on accomplishing those goals. Question: This weekend, you open the year with a tournament against Arkansas, North Carolina and Utah, three quality opponents. How does this type of tournament prepare you for the start of the dual match season next week?
Rales: Personally, I just want to go out and do the things that will prepare me for the start of the dual match season and for the team, it is pretty much the same. For a lot of our new players, it will be a chance to get used to the level of tennis we will see this spring. Question: Does this competition especially help because of the early non-conference schedule with opponents like TCU and Tennessee in the ITA Indoor regional?
Rales: This tournament this weekend is a test physically, to play singles and doubles for three straight days. We have talked a lot as a team to prepare for this moment. It is a great way to get set for the start of the year against two tough opponents in Old Dominion and TCU next week.