MSU women's tennis has melting pot of talent

February 12, 2009

Danny P Smith -




Radka Ferancova, a junior from Lucenec, Slovakia, has won all of her matches in singles. 


She said the team''s international flavor hasn''t created any chemistry problems. 


"It didn''t take long for us to get together and understand each other," Ferancova said. "We have some young girls from Russia, but they are really nice people, and they became a part of us so easily." 


MSU has three seniors: Martina Banikova, of Kosice, Slovakia, Elna De Villiers, of Grunau, Namibia, and Daniela Juskova, of Kosice, Slovakia. 


The Lady Bulldogs also have received contributions from Russian freshmen Olesya Tsigvintseva, of Izchesek, and Natalia Mayuk, of Belgorod. 


Despite battling injuries, MSU coach Tracy Lane has been pleased with the fast start. 


"We want to be able to put our best lineup on the court every day," Lane said. "That will be what ultimately make us the most competitive. When you do have those bodies that can easily come into the lineup, it gives you much more added depth. 


"Our goal is to win as many non-conference matches as possible and build on that confidence and, hopefully, be ready when March comes around." 


The Lady Bulldogs play a road match Friday against Tulane. 


Ferancova said winning keeps everything positive, and she hopes MSU continues to build on what it has done. 


"I think our team has been in really good spirits," Ferancova said. "We have gained confidence and we think we can win. I feel I''ve played pretty good tennis, and I hope it stays this way. I''m trying to stay focused so I don''t lose it and keep going." 




For the love of the game 


Mississippi State outfielder Nick Hardy and pitcher Jared Koon don''t have to play baseball this season. 


After earning their degrees in business administration, Hardy and Koon consider playing for the Bulldogs one more season as an added bonus while pursuing their master''s degrees. 


Hardy, who came to MSU from Meridian Community College, graduated from Madison Central High School. He has been recognized on the Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll. 


On the field, Hardy has played in 93 games, with 25 starts in two seasons. He made 19 of those starts in 2008. 


Koon does not have Hardy''s experience, mainly due to injuries, but he has changed his throwing motion, which he hopes will get him into the mix. 


"I''ve gone to more of a sidearm motion," Koon said. "I''m also looking to come back from shoulder trouble." 


As a left-hander, Koon looks to contribute on a staff dominated by right-handers. 


Koon is also a junior college transfer from Itawamba C.C. after his high school career at Tupelo. 


He welcomed the chance to continue his career at MSU because of everything the program offers. 


"It''s a great place to play, and you can''t get enough of it," Koon said. "From the facilities, people and all the fans, it was hard to turn down another year." 




Freshmen education 


Track and field coach Al Schmidt looks for continued improvement from his freshmen on the women''s team. 


The Lady Bulldogs have the Tyson Invitational on Saturday at Arkansas prior to the SEC Indoor and the NCAA championship meet before heading outdoors. 


Schmidt wants to give his newcomers plenty of experience. 


"With freshmen, you''ve got to coach hard," Schmidt said. "The fortunate part is we''ve got some older kids who are going to score some quality points at the national and SEC level, so that eases the burden a little bit." 


MSU has 14 freshmen on its women''s roster, so Schmidt realizes it is important to give the newcomers as much action as possible. 


The Lady Bulldogs showed potential last week at the Kentucky Invitational. 


Freshman Crystal Wilson won the 400-meter dash (56.86 seconds), which was fourth on MSU''s all-time indoor rankings. She also had a time of 25.46 in the 200. 


Wilson, who is from Jamaica, is getting used to life in Starkville. She liked her times in Kentucky, but believes she can improve on them. 


"We''ve been working really hard training from Monday to Wednesday," Wilson said. 




Goldman homecoming 


When the MSU men''s golf team opens the season Saturday at the SunTrust Gator Invitational in Gainesville, Fla., it will be a chance for senior Noah Goldman to play again in his home state. 


Goldman, a senior from Longwood, Fla., and graduate of Lake Mary High School, is looking forward to the weekend at the University of Florida''s Country Club. 


"We played in this tournament last year and the course was in great shape," Goldman said. "It was a well-run tournament and the weather was beautiful. We want those things to be the same again." 


Goldman was fourth on the team in scoring average during the fall season. He scored a second-round 67 at the Mason Rudolph Collegiate Championship, which was the second-best round for a Bulldog last fall.