Tennis captains set to step up

first_imgWith its season-opening tournament rapidly approaching this Friday, the University of Wisconsin women’s tennis team is ratcheting up their preparations for this season. Under new leadership, however, things may be different for the Badgers.Head coach Brian Fleishman has announced senior Katya Mirnova and junior Jessica Seyferth as team captains. While both are first-time captains, Fleishman has no doubts about his new captains’ leadership abilities.“It was pretty much a no-brainer,” Fleishman said of the decision to elect Mirnova and Seyferth.After last year, when the Badgers finished 68th in the NCAA and ninth in the Big Ten, Fleishman was faced with the task of replacing his two departing senior captains, Liz Carpenter and Erin Jobe. With only one senior on the team this year, Mirnova was an easy choice.“Katya, being our only senior, was asked by [the coaches], ‘Hey, do you want this your senior year?’ and she pretty much just laughed and said, ‘Of course I do!’” Fleishman said. “She’s one of those players that leads by example.”With one captain in place, Fleishman did not have much trouble deciding on Seyferth as the second.“With Jessica, basically you can’t have any more pride in the university than she does,” Fleishman said. “She wants this team to do well, and that’s the only reason she came here, to make the team better. [Choosing her] was pretty much a done deal.”As a freshman from Madison’s Memorial High School, Mirnova initially had no desire to serve as a captain. It was not until last year, her junior year, when Mirnova began to have aspirations to be one of the team’s leaders.“I never thought about it my freshman and sophomore years,” Mirnova said. “Then, as I became a junior, I started to think about it more, and I watched Liz Carpenter as a captain and I think she fulfilled her role perfectly. That’s when I started thinking about it and actually really wanted to become a captain.”For Seyferth, being a captain was always a definite goal. A two-year captain in high school, serving as captain for the UW was the logical next step.“I’ve always wanted to be captain of a college team,” Seyferth said. “It was definitely an honor and a position I was willing to take up with Katya. I think we’ll do a good job of leading the team this year and motivating everyone.”For Fleishman, being captain of his team is more than just a title. While some leadership roles in sports have been labeled overrated or unnecessary, Fleishman bestows certain responsibilities upon his captains.“One of the responsibilities, first, was over the summer, [Seyferth and Mirnova] were supposed to keep in touch with all the players, incoming and current, and make sure everyone was staying in shape, which they did a tremendous job of,” Fleishman said. “Once the team [began practicing], we were that much ahead of the game already. Day-to-day operations … their responsibilities are big, but they’ve accepted the challenge.”After beginning last year with a 2-1 record, the Badgers faltered around midseason. The worst stretch began with the onset of conference play, in which the team lost its first eight Big Ten matches. This year, Seyferth and Mirnova are already focused on improving both the team’s performance and attitude.“I think I can help [the team] emotionally and mentally,” Mirnova said of her role as captain. “Just keeping everyone intense when they’re feeling tired or worn down, or easing up on them when they’re feeling pressure.”“Getting [the team] motivated earlier,” Seyferth said of her first goal as captain this year. “[I want to] stay positive and let them know that we can do something bigger than ourselves and keep up the spirit.”This year, the Badgers begin the season in nearby Elm Grove at the Milwaukee Tennis Classic. The tournament begins Friday and will conclude Sunday afternoon. After a monthlong span of tournaments in October, the team will return to play its home opener Jan. 1 against UW-Milwaukee at the Nielsen Tennis Stadium. With Fleishman, Mirnova and Seyferth all agreeing the transition to their new roles as captains has been seamless, the team is excited about its potential this season.“I always have better expectations than the last year,” Seyferth said. “Each year, I think our team is improving, so I have really high expectations, and I expect people to step up.”last_img

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