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September 16-18 — Kansas Invitational at Lawrence, Kan.
September 23 — CU Invitational at Boulder
October 1 — All-American Championships at Los Angeles, Calif.
October 12 — ITA Regionals at Las Vegas, Nev.
November 3 — National Indoor Championships at New York City, N.Y.
November 4 — San Diego State Invitational at San Diego, Calif.
January 20 — U.S. Air Force Academy at Boulder
January 22 — Louisiana State at Boulder
January 28 — Houston at Houston, Texas
January 29 — Stephen F. Austin at Houston, Texas
February 11 — Colorado State at Boulder
February 18 — New Mexico at Albuquerque, N.M.
February 26 — Denver at Boulder
March 3 — St. Louis at Lincoln, Neb.
March 4 — Nebraska at Lincoln, Neb.
March 9 — California at Boulder
March 11 — Stanford at Boulder
March 23 — UCLA at Boulder
March 30 — Washington State at Pullman, Wash.
April 6 — Washington at Seattle, Wash.
April 7 — Oregon at Eugene, Ore.
April 12 — Arizona at Tucson, Arz.
April 14 — Arizona State at Tempe, Ariz.
April 21 — Utah at Salt Lake City, Utah
April 23 — Weber State at Ogden, Utah
April 26-29 — Pac-12 Championships at Ojai, Calif.
Colorado women’s tennis coach Nicole Kenneally understands that every now and then, college kids need a chance to revert back to their childhood.
So, before her team played the University of Texas last spring, she broke out some bubbles and handed a bottle to each member of her team.
“As a coach you try to do things that lighten it up,” she said. “The activity seems pretty trivial, but there’s that and a couple other things I like to do to relax them and get back to the simplicity of life.”
The levity was appreciated during a rebuilding year for CU tennis. The Buffs went 3-19 overall and ended the season with a school record 16-match losing streak. Colorado had plenty to be down about, but Kenneally and her bubbles kept the team from giving up too easily.
“Everyone that was on the team last year learning a lot about themselves,” she said. “The opportunity is always there to learn. We found out who we are as people and who we are as competitors and athletes. I think it’s important if you want to rise to the top, you’ve got to feel the bottom.”
When Colorado hits up the Pac-12 this season, it does so with a team of experience. Last year, four of the eight members of Kenneally’s roster were freshman.
Sophomore Kristina Schleich came to Boulder from Lilienthal, Germany. Last season, Schleich became the first freshman to play at the No. 1 singles spot since 2003. With a year of collegiate tennis behind her, Kenneally is confident in Schleich and her underclassmen peers’ progress.
“Life is a process and so is somebody’s college tennis career,” Kenneally said. “Those underclassmen and freshmen are the ones who will be playing significant time in the Pac-12 over the next few years. It doesn’t always go your way, you don’t always win, but it’s a matter of how do you treat that and how do you act in those circumstances.”
The Pac-12 is among the top two conferences in the country, second only to the SEC, Kenneally said, and yet she welcomed the new challenges eagerly. Four of the top 20 programs in the country play for the Pac-12.
Ania Anuszkiewicz, originally from Mississauga, Ontario, is the lone senior on the squad. She and Schleich teamed up at No. 1 doubles to upset Texas’ then top-25 doubles team in March.
The senior’s leadership will be helpful, but Kenneally said she doesn’t expect Anuszkiewicz to carry the team solo.
“It’s not necessarily on the shoulders of one person,” she said. “It’s definitely a group effort. In such a small team as what we have, that can be the responsibility of everybody.”
Colorado women’s tennis has been around since 1975, and the CU tennis complex was built in 2003.
The last time the Buffs made it to the final round of the Big 12 Championships was in 1998, when they were outplayed 5-0 by Texas. The most recent individual Big 12 champs are No. 4 singles player Veera Nurmi and No. 6 singles player Franziska Jendrian in 2008. At doubles, Camila Belassi and Melisa Esposito were champs at the No. 1 spot in 2009.
Last year, the Buffs finished with a dismal 3-19 overall record, which includes a school record 16-match losing streak. The 2010-2011 season ended with a disappointing 4-0 defeat by Nebraska in the first round of the Big 12 Championships.
Current head coach Nicole Kenneally will notch her 14th season with the Buffs, and she’s currently the winningest Colorado coach with 126 career victories. That number makes her the third winningest all-time coach in CU history.
If you can only make one game…
Bring your sunglasses to the CU tennis complex on south campus for the CU Invitational on Friday, September 23. Last year the Buffs hosted Denver and New Mexico State, and it’s your only chance to catch a glimpse of the team in the fall. In the spring, catch CU against Stanford on Sunday, March 11. The Cardinal was ranked No. 1 heading into the national championship match last season, but fell to Florida in a tight 4-3 loss. Stanford also returns the national champion doubles pair of Hilary Barte and Mallory Burdette.