June 30, 2014
EAST LANSING, Michigan - Michigan State women's tennis head coach Simone Jardim announced the team's 2014-15 schedule on Monday. Highlighting the schedule this season will be the Spartans' participation in the 2015 ITA Kick-Off Weekend on January 23-25.
"Overall, I feel like this year's schedule is stronger than it has been in the past," said Jardim. "In the fall, we open with our home tournament, which last year helped to propel us to the good season we had. This year we are also adding a couple stronger tournaments, including the Wildcat Invite, which should help us prepare for the spring dual season."
Michigan State opens with three tournaments in September, starting with the Auto-Owners Insurance Spartan Invitational on Sept. 13-14 in East Lansing. The next two weekends, the Spartans will travel to the Bowling Green Invite on Sept. 19-20 and the Wildcat Invite at Northwestern on Sept. 26-28. The ITA Midwest Regional Championship (Oct. 17-21) and the ITA National Indoors (Nov. 6-9) conclude the fall, if individuals qualify.
"Last fall we had good results, which wasn't always the case in the past, but it helped to increase confidence and show promise, as people got deep into tournaments, qualified for the regional championships and won matches," added Jardim. "Those are all confidence boosters and help being recognized on the national level. "
Michigan State will host 15 matches in the spring, beginning with a doubleheader against Eastern Michigan and Oakland on Jan. 18.
"The spring schedule features a few quality matches at home, including nationally-ranked DePaul, and provides us with some solid opponents leading into the always difficult Big Ten season," added Jardim.
For the first time since 2009, the Spartans were selected to play in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. MSU will face California, who finished last season No. 10 in the ITA national poll, on Jan. 24 in Berkeley. The Spartans will then face nationally-ranked St. Mary's or Fresno State the next day, depending on the previous outcomes.
2015 ITA Kick-Off Weekend Information
"It is exciting for our program to have been selected to participate in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend this year," said Jardim. "It is a great opportunity for us to play some really good teams. Our program is moving in the right direction and finishing in the top-80 last season gave us the opportunity to get drafted into this tournament. The added exposure for our program is important, as we return to this event for the first time since my first season at MSU.
"In all, the tournament will strengthen our schedule. To travel to and open with a strong national team like California-Berkley will challenge us right away. Plus the opportunity to play either St. Mary's or Fresno State in the second match will make our team better."
Michigan State will return home for a pair of doubleheaders to start the month of February. Toledo and Bowling Green come to East Lansing on Feb. 1, while Cleveland State and Detroit visit on Feb. 7. The Spartans travel to Western Michigan on Feb. 13, before returning home to face Wright State and Milwaukee on Feb. 15.
March begins with a dual against UIC on March 6 in East Lansing. The Spartans then head to Connecticut on March 11. The Big Ten schedule opens against new conference member Rutgers on March 13 in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
The conference slate will continue with five-straight home matches. Nebraska comes to town on March 15, followed by Wisconsin on March 21 and Minnesota on March 22. The next weekend features Illinois on March 28 and Northwestern on March 29. The last three schools all finished the 2013-14 season ranked nationally by the ITA.
The Spartans will be on the road for the entire month of April, starting with three ranked Big Ten opponents. MSU heads to Indiana on April 4 and Purdue on April 5. Defending conference champion Michigan follows on April 10. The regular-season concludes with a trip to Penn State on April 17 and a journey to nationally-ranked Ohio State on April 19.
The 2015 Big Ten Championship will be held in Lincoln, Nebraska on April 23-26.
"The addition of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend will definitely make our schedule stronger and more difficult," added Jardim. "All in all, we need to believe as a group that we can keep making that next step forward and make an impact in the conference and on a national level. We need to build off of last year's success, but we still have a lot of things we need to work on and get better. We lost a few key people from last season, but we are confident as a group and looking to improve on last year."