The eighth-ranked Virginia women's tennis team will play a pair of in-state foes this weekend when they visit William & Mary on Saturday and host Virginia Tech in the ACC opener on Sunday. Virginiasports.com talked with sophomore Hana Tomljanovic to discuss the team' strong start to the season and to preview this week's matches.
Question: What adjustments will you have to make to return to playing regular season matches this week after playing tournaments in the past two weeks?
Tomljanovic: It gives us more time to focus on each match. In the tournaments, you don't know who you are going to play until the day before, but with regular season matches you can prepare better. We have some tough opponents coming up that we are getting ready to play.
Question: On Sunday you open ACC play against Virginia Tech. How important is it to start the conference season strong?
Tomljanovic: It is very important. The ACC is one of, if not the toughest, conferences in women's tennis. It is key for us to start the ACC season with some wins, especially as our first few matches are against some of the lower ranked opponents. Those matches will get us ready for when we play the top 10 teams later on.
Question: What did you learn from your performances the last two weeks at National Team Indoors and the Blue Gray Classic?
Tomljanovic: Obviously, those results were positives. It showed us that we can achieve the goals we set for ourselves at the beginning of the season. It also showed us that our hard work in practice and in our physical training is paying off. I think this is just the beginning for this team. We are hungry and ready to achieve even more.
Question: How difficult is this time of the season when you are switching back and forth from playing indoors and outdoors?
Tomljanovic: It is tough, but that is mostly all mental. We need to be able to start playing outside and getting used to outdoor tennis again. The big matches and big tournaments later in the year are all outdoors and we need to start to prepare for that.
Question: What does it say about where the team is right now that you are ranked a school-record No. 8 this week, and have four singles players and three doubles teams nationally ranked?
Tomljanovic: It is amazing. Last year, we were ranked around No. 25 all season long. We wanted to get into the top 20 and couldn't and that was frustrating. Now we are in the top 10 and it is exciting. It shows this team is capable of some great things. Now we have to back up that ranking with our performances on the court. We are motivated to keep working hard to keep a high ranking.
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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.
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