HARTSVILLE, S.C. – When looking at the Coker women's tennis team, one word comes to mind – new. New players, new atmosphere and new season are how it's being described by head coach Tom Simpson.
"We're kind of fresh, I'd say," Simpson said. "We have returners ready for a new season and several new faces just getting to campus – some whom are new to this country – so it's a brand new start for all of us."
Simpson has nearly a brand-new team from a year ago. He lost some key members to graduation, leaving two returning players for this year. But he hit the recruiting trail and brought in four new Cobras – two of whom came from outside the United States.
The incoming freshmen include a pair of South Carolina natives – Jessi Campos and Casey Altman – along with Daniela Chipe, an Ecuador native, and Anna Musiyenko, who hails from the Ukraine. They join returners Brittanny Yando, a senior, and Faith Baxley, a junior.
"I really like our group," said Simpson. "We have a great mix of talented players. I'm excited to see how we can gel on the court."
Like most coaches, Simpson will look for his upperclassmen to show the youngsters the way.
"Brittanny and Faith will be counted on for leadership," he said. "They've been here before, and I have no doubts they can help guide our new players."
Coker had a 7-4 mark in Conference Carolinas play last year and reached the quarterfinals of the postseason tournament. The squad came out and had a strong showing in the fall, leaving its head coach with a positive feeling heading towards the spring.
"We did well in our fall season invitational tournaments, which is great," Simpson said. "Everyone wants to do well this year. We are very hungry, which I believe will translate to success on the court."
With the same schedule as the men, the matchups for women's tennis are just as daunting.
"The schedule is not an easy one," said Simpson. "I want us to be able to challenge every team we face this year, and I believe we will."
The women's team begins the season Feb. 2 at Anderson University.