CHARLESTON, S.C. - Head Coach Mike Baker and the Buccaneers women's tennis team opens up the 2018 season this weekend at the Duckworth Doubleheader held in Charlotte, N.C. at the Charlotte Indoor Tennis Club. CSU will take on Clemson, UNC Wilmington, and Appalachian State over the weekend in their first action of the season.
Saturday, January 20 – Women's Tennis vs. Clemson – 2:30 p.m.
Saturday, January 20 – Women's Tennis vs. UNC Wilmington – 5:30 p.m.
Sunday, January 21 – Women's Tennis vs. Appalachian State – 10 a.m.
Things to Watch from the CSU Women's Tennis Team
All-Conference Talent Returning
One doesn't have to look far to see All-Conference talent on the CSU roster. Seniors Sophie Cloessner and Valeria Koussenkova, as well as junior Kimberley Koerner return to the Buccaneer lineup after posting All-Big South seasons in 2017 with CSU. Cloessner, a First Team selection, went 17-2 in singles play and finished the year on a 10-match winning streak playing primarily on courts 1 and 2. Koerner went 15-4 on the season and posted the conference's longest winning streak to open the year at 13 matches on her way to receiving Second Team recognition on courts 3 and 4. Koussenkova earned Second Team honors after posting a perfect 14-0 record at the No. 5 position and an 8-0 mark in conference play. Koussenkova added First Team honors in doubles play, while Cloessner was a Second Team selection.
Winning Streak in the Record Books
CSU put together one of the longest winning streaks in Buccaneers history last season. The Bucs posted a 14-match winning streak running from February 11 – April 9 that included four 7-0 sweeps, and a trio of 4-3 wins. The Bucs topped Wofford, 6-1, to open the streak, and won a trio of hard-fought 4-3 matches over NCAA Division III runner-up Emory, Winthrop, and Mercer to keep the streak alive in April. The Bucs streak came to an end on April 14 at Liberty. Along the stretch, Koerner earned Player of the Week recognition following CSU's wins over UNC Wilmington, Wofford, and S.C. State. It marked the sixth consecutive season that CSU won at least seven consecutive matches and was two matches shy of the Bucs' 16-match win streak set in 2014.
Home Sweet Home
The Bucs are 67-10 over the past eight seasons at home following a perfect 9-0 stretch at the Buccaneer Tennis Complex last season. CSU picked up home wins over Appalachian State, Buffalo, and NCAA Division III power Emory, as well as eventual Big South Champion Winthrop. It marked the fourth season in recent history the Bucs have posted a perfect home record since the 2012 season. CSU went 11-0 at home in 2012, and 8-0 in both 2014 and 2015. The 2015 season culminated in the Bucs' first appearance in the NCAA Tournament as CSU advanced to the Athens Regional against Georgia.
Baker At the Helm
A four-time Big South Coach of the Year, Head Coach Mike Baker enters his 13th season at the helm of the Buccaneers women's tennis program. Baker has posted a 157-78 record in his 12 seasons with the Buccaneers and a 73-20 record in conference play during his tenure as the head coach of the program. The Bucs have posted eight double-digit wins over the last 12 seasons, including each of the last six years. CSU posted a school-record 18 wins in 2015 on their way to advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the first time. He has coached four conference players of the year, a Freshman of the Year, and a pair of Scholar-Athletes of the Year during his tenure. The Bucs have posted 24 All-Conference singles and 24 All-Conference doubles players over the past 12 seasons. He is second among active coaches and third all-time in Big South history with 157 wins, trailing only Winthrop's Cid Carvalho (392-242) and Coastal Carolina's Jody Davis (241-90) in the Big South record books.
Key Matches to Watch
January 20 – vs. Clemson – CSU opens the 2018 regular season slate against the Tigers at the Duckworth Doubleheader. It is the second consecutive season CSU has opened the year against Clemson with the Bucs falling 6-1 in 2017. The Tigers finished the 2017 season ranked No. 31 in the ITA Coaches' poll.
February 24 – at #15 South Carolina – The Bucs take on nationally-ranked South Carolina at the Carolina Tennis Center in their first match in nearly a month following the Duckworth Doubleheader. The Gamecocks finished the 2017 season ranked No. 15 in the ITA poll, and then opened the year No. 15 in the preseason poll.
March 2 – vs. Longwood – The 2018 Big South Conference opener begins a stretch of three home matches in three consecutive days at the Buccaneer Tennis Complex. CSU has opened Big South play at home in each of the last six seasons with the Lancers coming to Charleston on March 2, 2013. The Bucs posted a 6-1 win over Longwood in the 2013 season and have posted perfect 7-0 wins in each of the past two seasons over Radford (2016) and Campbell (2017).
March 30 – at Emory – The March 30th match against Emory marks the fourth consecutive season the Bucs take on the NCAA Division III power. CSU is 3-0 against the Eagles dating back to the first matchup in the 2014 season, including last season's 4-3 win at the Buccaneer Tennis Complex. Emory advanced to the NCAA Division III championship match for the fifth consecutive season last year and 12th time in program history this past season before falling to Williams College in the championship match.
April 7 – at Winthrop – The Big South Conference championship has been decided by these two teams in three of the past five seasons, including last year's championship held at Wake Forest University. The Eagles topped the Bucs, 4-1, in the rematch between the two teams. The Bucs and Eagles have won the regular season championship in each of the last four seasons.
Player Profile – Sophie Cloessner
Senior Sophie Cloessner has earned All-Conference honors in each of the last three seasons and has posted a 48-6 record in singles competition since stepping foot on campus in 2015. The Wetzlar, Germany native went a perfect 15-0 in dual match play as a freshman, 9-0 record in conference play as a sophomore, and a team-high 17 wins last season as a junior. Cloessner has been a First Team All-Conference singles player lining up primarily on court no. 2 in each of the last two seasons. She returns for her senior season on a 10-match winning streak dating back to March 20, 2017, when she topped Radford's Natalie Sayer in the third set tiebreaker.
"I'm excited about the (2018) season. We always play Clemson and several other good teams early in the season; it's a great way to get started, get up to speed, and get match play in. We'll have a few weeks after that to come back and get ready for March, so it's a great way to start." – Head Coach Mike Baker on the early schedule portion.
"We just have to keep doing what we've been doing; keep working hard and staying like a family. We have to keep supporting each other. We've proven over the past couple of years that we're ready to play the big teams and we're trying to make a push to raise our national ranking. We finished 78th last year and we have a great schedule this year with an opportunity to finish even higher." – Head Coach Mike Baker on the difficulty of the schedule and the resilience of the team.
"We have great leadership on this team. The girls who have been here last year send the message and show the other players what it means to be a Buccaneer, and how to get ready for the season. I'm looking forward to seeing how the season progresses as we continue to get ready for the year." – Head Coach Mike Baker on the roster makeup and leadership on the team.
8 – Home matches in 2018. The Bucs went a perfect 9-0 at home in the 2017 season with wins over Wofford, S.C. State, Campbell, Gardner-Webb, Appalachian State, Buffalo, Presbyterian, Emory, and Winthrop.
17 – It was the fourth time CSU won at least 17 matches in a season and third in the last four years as the Bucs posted a 17-3 mark in 2017. The Bucs have posted 17 win seasons in 2010, 2014, and 2017 while setting a school-record with 18 wins in 2015.
17 – Sophie Cloessner posted a team-high 17 wins last season in singles play with the senior from Wetzlar, Germany going 14-1 on court no. 2 and 3-1 on court no. 1. She won her final 10 matches of the season and posted a 7-1 mark in Big South Conference play.
24 – During head coach Mike Baker's tenure with the Bucs, CSU boasts 24 All-Conference singles and 24 All-Conference doubles players since the 2006 season. This includes Big South Players of the Year Olga Makhova (2009, 2010) and Marketa Placha (2014, 2015).