Georgia State women’s tennis begins Sun Belt Title defense

Tarani Kamoe returns the ball during a women's tennis practice at Piedmont Park Photo by Dayne Francis | The Signal

The Sun Belt Women’s Tennis Championship trophy currently resides in Atlanta. Now, No. 48 Georgia State looks to climb in the national ranks of NCAA competition. The team begins its home schedule on Feb. 18 against Winthrop and UAB on Piedmont Park’s newly resurfaced courts.

We are excited to really get the community surrounding Piedmont Park involved with Georgia State tennis and provide a thriving college tennis atmosphere,” Head Coach Jason Marshall said in a Georgia State communications press release.

In the fall season, the Panthers defeated squads like Middle Tennessee, but lost many singles matches against SEC schools like UGA and Florida. Freshman Damira Muminovic did, however, sweep her Oregon opponent in singles play, giving the Ducks their only singles loss of the fall season at the time with a record of 11-1. Junior Kristin Rehse, senior Tarani Kamoe and Muminovic also took victories at Baylor and against Wisconsin opponents in singles play during the fall season.

Last season’s leftovers

The women’s tennis team won a total of 15 matches last season, and they will look to carry that same momentum into this year. During the 2015-16 season, the Panthers leaned heavily on their seniors Niri Rasolomalala and Linn Timmermann. This year, however, the team will depend on Kamoe, who happens to be the only senior on this 2016-17 team.

Looking at her stats from last season, though, she should be able to carry the load. Kamoe was the No. 1 doubles player with Timmermann last year and ranked as high as No. 33 in doubles. Kamoe proved she was capable of finishing strong down the stretch, as she won four of the last six doubles contests. Presumably, her most impressive win came against the No. 1 doubles team, who happened to be then ranked No. 67 Winthrop on Feb. 7. She also made an appearance on the 2015 All-Sun Belt Doubles Second Team and the 2014 All-Sun Belt Doubles First Team.

The Panthers are also high on Rehse. The 6-foot junior from Hofheim, Germany made an appearance on the 2015 All-Sun Belt Doubles team with her impressive play for the Panthers last year. Rehse and Timmermann led the team in doubles wins last season with a 13-3 record at No. 2 doubles. Rehse also managed to go 4-2 in six matches against singles players from ranked schools. She has proven that she can battle against opponents top performers in single play as well as doubles play.

As for the underclassmen on the team, one player, in particular, that is looking to make a name for herself is sophomore Daniela Ramirez. While Ramirez is relatively new to playing tennis here in the United States, she brings much experience from playing the game of tennis in her hometown of Merida, Venezuela. Ramirez won events in 2015 with the Valencia Juniors Open and the Barquisimeto Juniors Open. She will be looked upon to bring her championship winning attitude to this year’s Panthers team.

Among other underclassmen are Ilona Golynker, Anastasia Grosheva and Muminovic, who are all freshmen at Georgia State.

The schedule

The Panthers look to make a return to the NCAA tournament again this season. Their schedule sets up pretty favorably for them this season. Their few big matchups will be at home or in the Atlanta area. They open their season against Louisville. Last season Louisville finished last season with a record of (8-18), and (0-14) in their conference. Their first test will come against a Winthrop team that went (20-5) last season, but they only return one senior. Although they only return one senior, this will still be a tough matchup. Arguably their biggest test comes a few matches later as they square off against the No. 24 ranked  Bulldogs of Mississippi State. Mississippi State went (18-9) last season and they return their entire team except for one senior. They also have the No. 27th ranked player in the nation in Jasmine Lee. Lee is also apart of the doubles group that is ranked No. 5 in the nation.

Their next matchup against East Tennessee State will be a solid test because they have the No. 95th ranked player in the nation, Ioanna Markesini. The Panthers will enter conference play a few matches later. They open up Sun Belt play against UT Arlington, who finished third in the conference last season.  That comes a week for their showdown with rival Georgia Southern. Although, tennis is different that other sports it is still good to beat Georgia Southern in whatever you can. No matter the outcome they will have to move on quick because the following week they have a championship rematch with South Alabama. South Alabama lost three seniors from last years team, but they do have plenty of experience and will be tough to beat. They Panthers finish conference play with matches against Appalachian State and Coastal Carolina before the conference tournament begins.