Coming off a successful season that saw APSU women’s tennis once again hoist an Ohio Valley Conference Championship trophy, the team looks to sustain their dominant run of the conference through roster turnaround while also vying to compete with some of the country’s premier tennis programs.
The Governors punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament after defeating Southeast Missouri 4-3 in the OVC Championship on April 25. While they were shutout by No. 3 Georgia in the tournament, the match was all but handed to the Bulldogs.
“No. 1 doubles I thought was playing a good match,” said APSU head coach Ross Brown. “Actually, I felt like their number one doubles team, which was against one of the best doubles pairs in the country, was a little nervous playing us. I could actually see when they started off that they were nervous and so I think that was something to take note of.
“In singles, Danielle and Jana were playing very good matches. They were both in their matches. They lost their first set, but were playing really good tennis overall”
In their final competition as a tandem, Danielle Morris and Fabienne Schmidt trailed the nation’s sixth-ranked doubles pairing 4-3 when their match went unfinished.
Schmidt, a three-time All-OVC honoree who led the Govs from the No. 1 singles position in each of the last two seasons, finished her decorated APSU career with 44 singles and 41 doubles wins across her four spring seasons in Clarksville; including 122 victories overall.
Stepping into the shoes of her now-former doubles partner, Morris has confidence from both players and coaches alike to lead the Govs from the No. 1 singles and doubles positions next season.
“I am just really impressed with the substance that young lady is made of,” Brown said. “She is a great team leader and she’s got a good work ethic. She always does what’s right, and I think everyone knows where Danielle stands.
“I am looking forward to [Morris stepping into the No. 1 singles position]. Not only will she handle that, I see her excelling. I am thankful that we have got not only a player of Danielle’s caliber, but somebody that has the fortitude and guts to continue to do the best she can no matter what is going on.”
Highlighted by Jana Leder, the Govs are also set to return four other players next season. Leder won her final 11 singles matches en route to being named the OVC Freshman of the Year and First-Team All OVC.
The program will, however, also be without Ana Albertson, who earned 39 combined spring-season victories across her five years for the red and black.
Despite two of their most notable players not being on the roster going forward, the Governors are set to welcome two new student-athletes who each had impressive prep careers.
Yu-Hua Cheng, a native of New City Taipei, Taiwan, will join the team next fall. Cheng helped lead Taipei Municipal Nangang Vocational High School to a national championship in 2020. She also has career-high ranking of 557 in the International Tennis Federation’s World Junior and 9.69 Universal Tennis Ranking.
Denise Torrealba, hailing from Neu-Isenburg, Germany, is also set to join the Govs prior to the start of next fall. A two-time state champion and ITF grade 4 junior doubles champion at Privatgymnasuim Schwetzingen, Torrealba reached No. 733 in the ITF Junior rankings earlier this year and currently holds a UTR of 9.
With many of their key pieces from the impressive 2021 campaign remaining, Brown and company look primed to not just continue their dominant reign of the conference — a reign that has seen them capture three conference championships and post a 25-6 OVC record over the last four seasons — but steadily improve as well.
“We are going to be very competitive next year,” Brown said. “It’s hard to say what the other teams will have, but I can tell you that everyone seems to keep on improving and that is what we need to do as well.
“Our goal is to win the conference championship — the regular season and the tournament. That is what we are going to be working towards heading into the season. Perhaps we will have some challenges along the way, usually you do, but I think we have the women that can do it.”