For Immediate Release: September 17, 2009
Contact: David O'Brian (
Phone: 607-777-6478

Binghamton women's tennis 2009-10 season preview

Since 2005, the Binghamton women's tennis team has been one of the most solid programs in the America East Conference. The Bearcats have gone 54-21 in dual matches and have been the runner up four times. They have not lost a conference dual match in five seasons and have been well represented on the America East All-Conference squads each year.

Heading into the 2009-10 season, Binghamton remains in good shape. With no seniors on last year's team that went 17-4, the Bearcats return all of their top players from a year ago. Once again, Binghamton is poised to make a deep run in the conference tournament at the end of the season.

"We are looking forward to this season," seventh-year head coach Mike Stevens said. "We have everybody back from last year. We are taking part in some highly competitive tournaments this fall and have a challenging dual match schedule in the spring. Our expectations are high."

Junior Lauren Bates is the top returning singles player, having gone 22-10 while playing primarily at No. 1 singles. She was also part of the Bearcats' top doubles squad for the second year in a row. At the conclusion of the season, Bates was named second-team all-conference in both singles and doubles play.

"Lauren came back in good shape and her game looks very good at this point," Stevens said. "We are looking forward to seeing how she competes this fall and I expect a lot of good things from her in the spring season."

Last year's top rookie was Jillian Santos, who went 23-9 while playing mainly at No. 2 singles. She also joined Bates at first doubles for much of the season. Like Bates, Santos was also named second-team all-conference in both singles and doubles play.

"Jillian had an excellent year for us as a freshman and she came back in great shape," Stevens said. "She has added some weapons to her game and I expect her to be very good near the top of the lineup."

Junior Yulia Smirnova had the best overall singles record on the team last season, finishing 22-5 while playing mainly at third singles. She was named second-team all-conference at the end of the season and was also part of the first-team all-conference doubles tandem.

"Yulia has really developed a leadership role within the group," Stevens said. "She is always in top shape. She works very hard on her fitness. She had the best singles record last year and has the respect of the team."

Sophomore Marina Bykovskaya joined the team last January and played at fourth singles for much of the season. She finished 13-8 and was the clinching win in a couple of key dual matches.

"Marina came in and won some big matches for us last year," Stevens said. "She matured as a player and I am really looking forward to working with her as she continues to improve."

Also returning this year are Basak Gone, who competed at No. 5 singles last season and was named first-team all-conference, and senior Danyelle Shapiro, who played at sixth singles. Sophomore Emma Leibowicz was part of No. 2 doubles team that was named first-team all-conference.

During the fall season, the Bearcats will take part in several key tournaments, including the Cornell Invitational, the Eastern Collegiate Championships (Sept. 25-27), the USTA National Tennis Center Invitational (Oct. 10-12) and the ITA East Regional (Oct. 23-26). In the spring, Binghamton has added Marquette, Richmond and UNC-Wilmington to an already challenging non-conference slate that includes dual matches against Army, Cornell, Rutgers, Syracuse, Villanova and Temple.

As for the America East Conference, while Boston University has been the top team each year. UMBC, Stony Brook and Binghamton have each been improving every season and have been jockeying for the other first-round bye in the America East Tournament. This year promises to be no different.

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