TUESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE BRINGS YOU :
-EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH WOMEN'S TENNIS COACH MARK BECKHAM...PART OF OUR EFFORT TO GIVE YOU COVERAGE OF ALL THE WOMEN'S SPORTS AT UofL...
-Also...update on Dez Byrd
Mark Beckham, the Cards women's tennis coach enters his fourth year guiding the squad. No novice to tennis on the Belknap Campus...he was previously assistant coach on the men's team for 13 years before accepting the women's position. His vision and master plan ranks up there with the best on campus. The Cards home matches are played at the Bass-Rudd Center (pictured above) which has both indoor and outdoor courts.
Women's tennis actually plays in both the fall and spring sports seasons and Mark gave us some insights and information on the who, what and where for them this fall.
CARDINAL COUPLE: When does the fall season begin?
MARK: We start off our fall tournaments with the Spartan Invitational at Michigan State from Sept. 24th. to Sept. 27th. This will be a good test to start things off for this young team. The competition there will be good but if we play well I think we can make it to the finals or even win some of the events in this tournament.
CARDINAL COUPLE: After that?
MARK: The next tournament we'll go to is the Virginia Tech Invitational and it goes from Oct. 1st. thru 3rd. The competition will be higher at this tournament...so this will show us where we truly are at this time of year. I hope it will also show us what we need to work on and what kind of team we can be.
CARDINAL COUPLE: The ITA Regional in Knoxville is a big one also, isn't it?
MARK: It's the biggest tournament of the fall and goes from Oct. 14th thru the 17th. All the teams in our region will send their best players there to determine who the best player in the region is.
CARDINAL COUPLE: The Cards had some success in this one last year...didn't they?
MARK: We had Mandy Brown, a freshman, make it to the round of 16...which is a great showing for a freshman. I'm hoping we can have her and a few more players that do well for an even bigger showing than last year. It will help with our national rankings and I think I can possibly get a player or doubles team ranked nationally this year. That's definitely our goal.
CARDINAL COUPLE: How does the team look for this year?
MARK: I have 3 juniors,(Gabrielle Duncan, Amelia Harris and Sarah Miller), 4 sophomores ( Mandy Brown, Kaysara Mandry, Louise Noe and Stefanie Villajuan) and 3 freshmen (Sonia Bukhari, Julie Fellerhoff and Becca Shine). I think this is a good core that will take Louisville womens' tennis into the national rankings and challenge for a Big East title for this year and many years down the road.
Thanks to Mark for the positive and informative report on the squad and for taking time out of his busy schedule to keep CARDINAL COUPLE readers up on one of the sports we report on here at the site. Serve 'em hard, inside the line and charge that net!
CARDINAL COUPLE has learned that junior point guard Dez Byrd will not play for the University of Louisville in the 2010-11 season. Byrd has left school for personal reasons, according to Louisville head coach Jeff Walz.
Byrd never fully recovered from the knee injury she sustained back in 2009 and played in only six games in the 2009-10 season for Louisville. A talented point guard and good playmaker, Byrd's presence would have helped the Cards in the back court this season with her experience and enthusiasm. Byrd was a starter on the 2008-09 team that made it to the NCAA Women's Championship game. Her leadership and support from the bench last year will be missed.
Get it together, Dez and come back next year strong and ready to handle the challenges and responsibilities that college athletes face in this demanding role of being a student-athlete.