Women's Tennis gaining comfort in Fendick-McCain’s philosophy
Patty Fendick-McCain admitted that at times last year she felt as though she was a visitor in Jeff Moore's locker room.
"It was a transition," the UT women's tennis coach continued. "And, that is not surprising when you follow a great coach, a highly-venerated coach as Jeff was, with all he had done to build this program. I didn't feel comfortable making many changes."
In Fendick-McCain's inaugural season at UT, the team went 18-12, reaching the Big 12 Tournament finals and the round of 32 in the NCAAs.
Now, as the women head into the second half of the season, Fendick-McCain sees her team meshing with her philosophy.
"The girls are fighting hard, that has been apparent," the coach said.
With the foundation of seniors Petra Dizdar and Ristine Olson, junior Courtney Zauft and freshmen Vanja Corovic and Sarah Lancaster, Coach Fendick-McCain's team entered the second half of the season owning a top 25 ranking.
As with the Texas men's tennis team, the women spent much of the first half of the season on the road - only two home matches through mid-February.
"The team has worked very hard," said Dizdar, a three-time, All-Big 12 Conference performer at UT. "And what we've worked on is the basics. What we talked about is the ability to focus better. The ability to be resilient throughout an entire match. We've worked on staying patient, running down every ball and doing the things that you can become complacent about when you have been doing this as long as most of us have.
"There is a certain chemistry (with the team) that makes me confident that this is a better and tougher team."
Fendick-McCain sees that the women have "gotten" her philosophy that while tennis is a team game, it is an individual sport.
"If everyone works their hardest and is focused individually, the results will be the best for the team," the Stanford alum said.
Fendick-McCain pointed to the 5-2 loss to Florida in mid-February as an example of her team "getting it."
"We were down 5-0, but the girls we had left on the court were fighting for every point, they were wanting to have a good individual result even though the match was lost," Fendick-McCain said. "I was so proud that they wanted to get those two points. They didn't want it to be 7-0.
"Being for the team sometimes results in everybody kind of giving in when a match is lost. Being self-motivated for your individual match, regardless of the other results, is important. The focus on the individual helps the team."
Fendick-McCain has been pleased with some solid victories thus far this year and is most pleased with the meshing of the team.
And the team got better at the first of February when South African prep standout Jane Pringle arrived for the spring.
From the Spier Tennis Academy in Bedford, South Africa, Pringle has been ranked in the top 10 in her age group since she was 12. Pringle is a member of the South African Federation Cup training squad.
"We're excited to have her join us," the coach said. "She adds depth to our squad and we expect her to make an impact in the near future."
As far as other expectations for the 2007 edition of the Texas women's tennis team, Fendick-McCain didn't talk in terms of wins.
"What our fans can expect and what I expect is for our team to fight hard for every single point," she said. "I expect them to show mental toughness. I expect them to be mentally prepared to fight every moment they are on the court.
"And if they do, good results will follow."