SMU Mustangs start spring as No. 23 in nation

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The SMU women’s tennis team begins spring play on Jan. 22 against Texas-Pan American.

Although football season is over, SMU Mustangs still have plenty of exciting Spring sports to look forward to. One of the most overlooked is the women’s tennis team, which is entering the 2010 spring season ranked No. 23 in the nation.

The Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced the rankings this week and it is the highest preseason ranking the Mustangs have achieved since 1989.

Sophomore Marta Lesniak, whom the ITA ranked as No. 47 in the nation, leads SMU. No Mustang has been ranked this high since 1993. Fellow sophomore Aleksandra Malyarchikova is listed as No. 76 in the nation and No. 10 in the region. Lesniak is ranked No. 5 in the region.

Lesniak is also ranked in the doubles with two different partners. Last spring season, she paired up with Malyarchikova to lead the Mustangs to the C-USA Championship. The tandem is ranked No. 30 in the nation and No. 5 in Texas.

Lesniak’s other partner is senior Pavi Francis and the two combined to win the doubles championship at the ITA Regional last fall. With the championship win the two earned an automatic berth into the National Indoor Championships, where they reached the consolation semifinals. They are ranked No. 15 in the nation and No. 2 in Texas.

Another doubles tandem, senior Nicole Briceno and freshman Shahzoda Hatamova, are also ranked regionally. The two are ranked No. 9 after advancing to the consolation championship match at the ITA Regional.

SMU, the reigning conference champions, will soon be gaining an even deeper roster with the addition of Charlotte Calhoun. Calhoun signed a National Letter of Intent (NLI) in November and should join the Mustangs in the fall.

The soon-to-be Mustang, hailing from nearby Highland Park, has been ranked as high as No. 2 in Texas and No. 45 in the nation. She is the captain of the Highland Park tennis team and has led the team to three UIL Texas 4A State Championships.

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