No. 21 LSU Set for ITA Kickoff Weekend

by Robert Quiroga
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No. 21 LSU Set for ITA Kickoff Weekend

Columbus, OH – The No. 21-ranked LSU women’s tennis team will open the 2022 dual season against SEC foe No. 20 Tennessee in the first round of the ITA Kickoff Weekend at noon CT on Saturday, January 29, at the Ty Tucker Tennis Center.

Tennessee (Jan. 29)
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Selling Points
“We’re excited to finally start the spring season at long last,” co-head coach Michael Sell said. “It’s been a crazy start to the year and not our ideal scenario of preparation, but we have an outrageously competitive team and are ready to face the challenges ahead of us.”

“We’ll face two Top 25 teams this weekend and it’ll serve as a gauge to where we are. We’re thankful to be healthy enough to compete and will take advantage of every opportunity we create for ourselves.”

ITA Kickoff Weekend
The ITA Kickoff Weekend features 60 of the best teams in college tennis at 15 host sites in groups of four. Host teams face the fourth seed while the second and third seeds compete in the first round, where the winners advance to the championship match. The team that wins their group advances to the ITA National Team Indoor Championship on February 11th to compete against fellow group winners.

LSU was drafted into the Ohio State group second and was joined by Tennessee and Oklahoma State as they were picked in the third and fourth rounds respectively. The Columbus, Ohio group is a competitive draw that features all four teams in the most recent Top 25 ITA Coaches Poll (No. 11 Ohio State, No. 20 Tennessee, No. 21 LSU, No. 24 Oklahoma State).

Vs. Tennessee
The Tigers and the Lady Volunteers have met 47 times over the years, with Tennessee holding a 29-18 advantage in the series. The two teams last met in the quarterfinals of the 2021 SEC Tournament when Tennessee came out on top by a score of 4-1.

No. 20 Tennessee currently sits at 2-0 after opening the season with a 4-0 win over Charlotte and a 4-3 win at Wake Forest. Individually, the Lady Volunteers swept SEC weekly honors, with Eleonora Molinaro claiming Player of the Week while Elza Tomase grabbed Freshman of the Week.

Tiger Tidbits
In addition to LSU’s team ranking at No. 21, three Tigers enter the dual season in the individual rankings. Graduate students Ena Babic and Taylor Bridges lead the line for the LSU women’s tennis team as they start the year at No. 25 in the doubles rankings following a 5-3 campaign in the fall that featured three ranked wins and the consolation title at ITA All-Americans.

Junior Safiya Carrington will begin the spring ranked No. 54 in the singles rankings. Carrington had a strong fall campaign and posted a 7-4 record across three tournaments. Her best spell came at the ITA Southern Regionals, where she defeated five of the southern region’s best players on her way to a runner-up finish in the singles bracket.

Babic is the final Tiger ranked as she debuts in the singles rankings at No. 92. Babic led the team in overall singles win with an 8-3 record in three tournaments, including one win over a ranked opponent.

Babic and fellow graduate student Mia Rabinowitz, alumnae of Purdue and Illinois respectively, could make their dual season debuts for LSU in a tennis center that had previously hosted them in Big Ten play. Freshmen Shaye Longwell and Rania Azziz could also make their dual season debuts, with Longwell having competed in the fall as a Tiger while Azziz joined the team in January.

Social Media
For more information on the LSU women’s tennis program follow the Tigers on Twitter @lsuwten , on Instagram @LSUWTen , and on www.Facebook.com/lsuwten.