JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (May 16, 2005) - At the end of the 2005 season, the East Tennessee State women's tennis team continued their development as a force to be reckoned with. In the fourth year under the direction of Head Coach Steve Brooks, the team continues to reach new heights as the team finished the season tied for second place after being voted to finish fourth in the SoCon preseason coaches' poll.
The Bucs improved to finish the 2004-05 season with a 19-7 overall and 8-2 in the Southern Conference. Their wins included their second consecutive wins over Virginia Tech and SoCon rival College of Charleston in an exciting 4-3 match on the road. Of their losses five of the seven matches were to opponents who later went on to participate in the 2005 NCAA tournament.
In post-season play the team made strides as they earned a first round bye. ETSU defeated their first opponent No. 5 UNC Greensboro 4-1 in the second round to advance to the semifinals where they fell in a tough 4-1 contest against top-seeded Furman, who went on to win the tournament championship.
The team also saw success individually as many of the young ladies etched their names in the ETSU record book.
Senior Gemma Halim (Jakarta, Indonesia) finished the season 18-12 record in singles playing at the No. 6 slot for the Bucs. She finishes her career with a total of 60 singles wins placing her tied for seventh on the all-time career list. She also had a strong doubles season picking up 27 wins, 20 of which were won with her partner freshman Olya Batsula (Minsk, Belarus) at the No. 3 slot. The doubles team was awarded All-SoCon second team honors for their 8-2 finish. Halim's 27 wins during the season places her tied for first on the single season doubles wins list, while Batsula's 20 wins places her 16th on the list.
Also ranking first on the single season doubles wins list with Halim are fellow teammates junior Sandie Knight (Adamstown, Australia) and freshman Elena Volobueva (Barcelona, Spain) who paired together for a 19-4 record at the No. 2 slot and accumulated a total of 27 doubles wins throughout the season.
Knight also achieved success in singles becoming the first ETSU women's tennis player since Paty Vega in 2000 to earn SoCon Player of the Week honors, which she was awarded with twice during the regular season. The junior recorded a 23-12 record during the season, placing her sixth on the single season wins list. She also finished 7-3 in SoCon action playing primarily at the No. 1 slot and was tabbed to the All-Southern Conference first team.
Junior Sylwia Ziolkowska (Warsaw, Poland) played primarily at No. 3 and finished the season compiling a 21-16 record, which ranks her tied for 11th on the singles season wins list. Her 21 wins also gives her a total of 56 career wins and places her 10th on the career singles wins list.
Masha Ilina (Kyiv, Ukraine) continued success in her sophomore season while making a transition up to playing the No. 2 singles slot for the Bucs. She ended the season with a 26-13 record ranking her fourth on the single season wins list. Only in her second season, Ilina has already garnered 54 singles wins, only two wins behind teammate Ziolkowska, and will look to break onto the career singles wins list early next season.
In doubles action, Ziolkowska and Ilina paired for the Bucs' No. 1 duo and recorded a 22-14 overall record and 8-2 SoCon record and were named as an All-SoCon first team doubles selection. Ilina's total of 23 doubles wins place her ninth on the single season doubles wins list, while Ziolkowska's 22 wins place her 12th.
In her first season, Batsula made a strong impression in singles action finishing with a 21-4 overall record and 9-1 SoCon record sharing time between the No. 4 and No. 5 slots. Her 21 singles victories rank her 11th on the single season wins list.
Newcomer Volobueva also contributed to the team with a 19-13 overall record. While making the transition to the collegiate style of play, she proved herself on the court playing throughout the line-up wherever she was needed including the difficult No. 1 slot.
The team also achieved academic success throughout their tough season as the team posted a cumulative GPA of 3.25 for the spring.
The Buccaneers now await the dawn of a new era as they will start 2005-06 competition as a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference facing new challenges and creating new rivalries while continuing to build the ETSU women's tennis dynasty.