After coming in second for the last two consecutive years, the Quinnipiac women’s tennis team, with nine strong competitors, is aiming for the number one spot.
The girls are coming off a strong fall season. Senior co-captain Stephanie Petrycki and junior Kristin Arahovites went far in the ITA Eastern Regionals held at the University of Pennslyvania. The pairing defeated the number nine seed from University of Virginia in the second round if the tournament to make it into the ‘sweet’ 16.
The win earned the ladies first doubles ranking of 15.
Last year Petrycki was named NEC scholar athlete for women’s tennis.
Over the last three years she has made several all-conference teams. Her freshman year she earned all-conference at number two singles and number two doubles. Sophomore year she made it at number one singles and doubles. Last year she was number one singles for the second straight year.
During all three years she was Quinnipiac’s Most Valuable Player.
“She is out on court leader. She’s the best player we’ve ever had at Quinnipiac,” said Head Coach Mike Quito.
Currently Petrycki, a leftie server and volleyier, has 142 wins second most to Jess Uccello who graduated in 2000 with 159 wins. Petrycki will play number one singles and doubles.
Senior co-captain Michelle Nagle is the heart and soul of the team.
She earned all-conference her freshman year at number two doubles and number three singles her junior year. The team ‘mom’ will be fighting for the number six singles and number three doubles spot this season.
The hometown talent from North Haven, Kim Piazza, will play number two singles. In her senior year of high school she was Connecticut’s State Champ. She continued her success last year receiving all-conference at number three singles. She’s a hard hitting baseline player who is still improving her game.
Arahovites will play number three singles. In her freshman year she posted a number doubles all-conference award. She is an all court player making her very hard to beat. Her fluid style of playing makes her the “prettiest” tennis player on the team.
Sophomore Danielle Rautenberg holds the number four singles spot. She is coming back from surgery that she had done on both of her legs this past summer. She is already back to 100 percent and has the capacity to beat any opponent.
The biggest surprise is at the number five singles position. Freshman Liz Axler has filled this spot solidly.
“She brings a sophisticated level of play to the court. She’s a really smart player which is rare for a freshman,” said Quitko. Her excellent volleying skills put her in the number two spot for doubles.
The last singles spot is still being fought for by three players; Katherine Ehle, Heather Rahm, and Michelle Nagle. Ehle is the strong freshman talent with tons of USTA experience.
In her junior year of high school she was in the top 20 in the Northeast. She is a leftie with solid overall skills. but might be hampered by lack of college playing experience.
San Diego native, sophomore, Heather Rahm is a very strong athlete who has improved immensely.
The server and volleyier, who was all-conference last year at number three doubles, has potential to play much higher than number six singles.
The ninth player is junior April Sonon. Sonon, who has started as high as number five singles, is still recovering from a shoulder injury. The baseliner will play a significant role as her shoulder improves to full strength.
For the last three years Petrycki and Arahovites has been the number one doubles team to beat. They can defeat any team in the conference and hope for the chance to play in the NCAA tourney at the end of the season.
At number two doubles is the pairing of Axler and Piazza. They are dripping with ability and only had one loss early in the fall season to UConn.
They would come back to avenge the loss later in the season. They still have a few growing pains to go through, but by the end of the season they should be a polished pair that no one can take lightly.
The last doubles pairing is also still up in the air. Potentially it could be Rahm and Nagle who were last year’s all conference number three pairing.
The biggest competition for Quinnipiac will come in the form of three time defending conference champs, University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
If the team wins the NEC they receive an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament in May.
The women opened the spring season at Army on Feb. 22. They play on the road for the entire month of March and host their first home match against Colgate on Apr. 6.
Head coach Mike Quitko enters his eleventh year as head coach. Last season, the women’s team posted a 14-3 record and made the NEC championship match for the second straight year. In the 1999-2000 season, the women’s team recorded a school record 20-4 mark and advanced to the NEC championship match.
As a result, Quitko earned NEC “Coach of the Year” accolades.
Overall, Quitko’s women’s coaching career record is an impressive 136-32. He was named the Northeast-10 Coach of the Year in 1992, 1993 and 1996. Quitko was also named the 2000 Northeast Conference Coach of the Year.