College Sports

Wildcats insider: Underclassmen lead turnaround in women’s tennis

Davidson women's tennis coach Sara Anundsen, center,is flanked by freshman Ava Todd, left, and junior Elaina Cummer at the Covington Tennis Courts. In Anundsen's first year, Davidson has a 10-7 record (3-2 Atlantic 10) with three matches left before the A-10 Championships.
Davidson women's tennis coach Sara Anundsen, center,is flanked by freshman Ava Todd, left, and junior Elaina Cummer at the Covington Tennis Courts. In Anundsen's first year, Davidson has a 10-7 record (3-2 Atlantic 10) with three matches left before the A-10 Championships. BILL KISER

When Sara Anundsen took over coaching Davidson’s women’s tennis team in July 2014, she inherited a program that had lost half its roster to graduation.

But this year’s underclassmen have played a big role in the Wildcats putting together their best dual-team season – as well as their best conference season – in five years.

Davidson is 10-8 overall and 3-2 in its inaugural season in the Atlantic 10 through April 8, with two regular-season matches remaining before the A-10 tournament, which begins April 15 in Charlottesville, Va.

That’s the best finish the Wildcats have had since going 15-8 overall and 7-3 in the Southern Conference in 2010. Last year, Davidson finished 7-18 overall and 2-7 in its final SoCon season.

Last year’s Wildcats squad had four seniors and only two freshmen among their nine roster players. This year, the roster has just one senior – Blake Nickles – with four freshmen, two sophomores and two juniors making up the rest of the team.

“It’s been the work that these players have put in,” said Anundsen, who spent the past four years as an assistant coach at North Carolina before replacing Caroline Price after she retired after 33 seasons as Davidson’s coach.

“I’m new to this program, and so is my assistant (Susanne Depka), and we both came from pretty successful programs that pushed their players and challenged their players. That was our mentality coming in – we’ve pushed these girls and been tough with them, and have challenged them. They’ve really stepped up and put the work in, and it’s showing in the results of their matches.”

And it’s been the Wildcats’ freshmen who have come through with the biggest results.

Ava Todd, of Baltimore, has the team’s best singles record at 16-2, and had a 16-match winning streak before losing to Elon on April 7. Anna Catharine Feaster, of Knoxville, Tenn., is 13-5, and had a seven-match winning streak ended in the Elon loss.

In doubles, Feaster and another freshman, Ally Sexton of North Palm Beach, Fla., have Davidson’s best record at 13-5.

“They’re two of the hardest workers I’ve seen,” Anundsen said of Todd and Feaster. “They come out to every single practice and run down every single ball, and it’s been like that since Day 1.

“It’s actually helped everyone else on the team, because it pushes everybody to work as hard as they do. They still get a little stressed on the court (during matches), but they’ve worked through a lot of the emotional stuff, to stay more emotionally stable during matches.”

Jackson joins football staff

Former Washington State assistant coach Jarrail Jackson has joined the staff of Davidson’s football team as its quarterbacks coach.

Jackson had spent the past three years on the Cougars’ staff, most recently as their director of player relations

A standout at Oklahoma, Jackson spent eight years playing professional football – two seasons with the NFL’s Buffalo Bills (2000-2002), and six years in the Arena Football2 League.

His coaching career began at Chickasha (Okla.) High School, but Jackson quickly moved to the college ranks, beginning as wide receivers coach at Central Oklahoma.

Jackson then moved to Dartmouth, spending six seasons there as wide receivers coach and special teams assistant. He also spent a year as an offensive coach intern with the NFL’s New York Jets before taking the Washington State position.

Field hockey earns awards

Davidson’s field hockey team has received the National Field Hockey Coaches Association’s Division I National Academic Team award, while six of the Wildcats’ players were named to the NFHCA’s National All-Academic Team.

Earning the All-Academic award were junior Danielle King, sophomores Becca Jones and Lauren McFayden, and freshmen Dodi Allocca, Morgan French and Alex Kane. It was the second time that King, Jones and McFayden were named to the team.

The NFHCA’s National Academic Team award recognizes teams that achieve a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher during the fall 2014 semester. Davidson was one of 67 teams nationwide to receive this award.

The National All-Academic Team award goes to players who achieve a cumulative GPA of 3.30 or higher through the first semester of the 2014-2015 academic year.

3 named to A-10 team

Three members of Davidson’s men’s and women’s indoor track teams were named to the Atlantic 10’s All-Academic team.

Juniors Patrick Rollo and Olivia Menden, and senior Sal del Giudice were named to the A-10 All-Academic team, which recognizes athletes that have at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point average, and are either a starter or important reserve.

Rollo was the Wildcats’ lone event winner at the A-10 indoor championships, taking the men’s 800-meter run. Earlier in the season, the Owing Mills, Md., native set a school record for the 800 of 1 minute, 52.06 seconds.

Menden, a native of Upper Arlington, Ohio, ran the third leg on Davidson’s women’s 4x800-meter relay team, which finished fourth at the A-10 indoor championships and set a school record of 9:07.35.

Del Giudice was a member of the Wildcats’ men’s distance medley relay and 4x800 relay teams, which finished fourth and eighth, respectively, at the A-10 indoor championships. The distance medley relay team set a school record of 10:03.30 in that meet.

Bill Kiser is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Bill? Email him at bkisercltobs@gmail.com.

Upcoming events

Wednesday, April 15

▪ Women’s tennis: at Atlantic 10 Championships, Charlottesville, Va.

Thursday, April 16

▪ Women’s tennis: at Atlantic 10 Championships, Charlottesville, Va.

Friday, April 17

▪ Women’s tennis: at Atlantic 10 Championships, Charlottesville, Va.

▪ Men’s track and field: at Mt. Sac Relays, Walnut, Calif.; at Charlotte Invitational, Charlotte; at Virginia Challenge, Charlottesville, Va.

▪ Women’s track and field: at Mt. Sac Relays, Walnut, Calif.; at Charlotte Invitational, Charlotte; at Virginia Challenge, Charlottesville, Va.

▪ Baseball: vs. Dayton, Wilson Field, 6 p.m.

▪ Women’s lacrosse: at La Salle, Philadelphia, Pa., 7 p.m.

Saturday, April 18

▪ Women’s tennis: at Atlantic 10 Championships, Charlottesville, Va.

▪ Men’s track and field: at Mt. Sac Relays, Walnut, Calif.; at Charlotte Invitational, Charlotte; at Virginia Challenge, Charlottesville, Va.

▪ Women’s track and field: at Mt. Sac Relays, Walnut, Calif.; at Charlotte Invitational, Charlotte; at Virginia Challenge, Charlottesville, Va.

▪ Baseball: vs. Dayton, Wilson Field, 2 p.m.

Sunday, April 19

▪ Women’s tennis: at Atlantic 10 Championships, Charlottesville, Va.

▪ Women’s lacrosse: at Saint Joseph’s, Philadelphia, Pa., 12 p.m.

▪ Baseball: vs. Dayton, Wilson Field, 1 p.m.

Tuesday, April 21

▪ Baseball: vs. Winthrop, Wilson Field, 6 p.m.

Thursday, April 23

▪ Women’s track and field: at Carolina Cup, Rock Hill, S.C.

▪ Men’s track and field: at Carolina Cup, Rock Hill, S.C.

▪ Men’s tennis: at Atlantic 10 Championships, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Friday, April 24

▪ Men’s tennis: at Atlantic 10 Championships, Cincinnati, Ohio.

▪ Men’s golf: at Atlantic 10 Championships, Orlando, Fla.

▪ Women’s lacrosse: at Duquesne, Pittsburgh, Pa., 3 p.m.

▪ Baseball: at St. Bonaventure, Olean, N.Y., 3 p.m.

Saturday, April 25

▪ Men’s tennis: at Atlantic 10 Championships, Cincinnati, Ohio.

▪ Men’s golf: at Atlantic 10 Championships, Orlando, Fla.

▪ Baseball: at St. Bonaventure, Olean, N.Y., 12 p.m.

Sunday, April 26

▪ Men’s tennis: at Atlantic 10 Championships, Cincinnati, Ohio.

▪ Men’s golf: at Atlantic 10 Championships, Orlando, Fla.

▪ Baseball: at St. Bonaventure, Olean, N.Y., 12 p.m.

▪ Women’s lacrosse: vs. St. Bonaventure, Richardson Stadium, 1 p.m.

Tuesday, April 28

▪ Baseball: vs. Elon, Wilson Field, 6 p.m.

  Comments