FOND DU LAC, Wis. (SabreAthletics.com) – The Sabres look to build momentum from last year's sixth place finish and repeat as Northern Athletics Conference tournament qualifiers. The Marian University women's tennis team lost its winningest player in program history, Rebecca Hezcko, but it returns a core group of upperclassmen with a mix of newcomers that will look to raise the bar.
Hezcko and junior Ann Goyke earned All-NAC Doubles team honors a year ago after getting all the way to the #1 semifinals last spring. Now, Goyke will look to take the torch and be the leader the team is looking for. Overall, Marian returns five letterwinners, including senior Sarah Brooker, junior Rachell Stoffel and sophomores Chelsey Will, Brynn Hartzell and Goyke.
After a one year absence from the team, Reilly Connaher, who went 18-1 in singles and 16-4 in doubles back in 2009, returns for her junior season. Meanwhile, Karianne Hofstetter joins as the team's lone freshman.
A busy weekend awaits the Sabres to open up the 2012 campaign as they travel to Ripon on Friday, Aug. 31. Their first true conference test will occur in the home opener when they play host to conference favorite and five-time defending champ, Edgewood, Saturday, Sept. 1. Rockford also visits Fond du Lac that day as well.
Other home dates include Benedictine and Aurora (Sept. 8), MSOE (Sept. 22) and Alverno (Sept. 25) to close out the fall regular season. Road matches include Concordia Wisconsin (Sept. 5), Lakeland (Sept. 13), Dominican and Concordia Chicago (Sept. 15) and Wisconsin Lutheran (Sept. 19). Non-conference opponents the Sabres will face this year are UW-Oshkosh (Sept. 7), Mt. Mary (Sept. 22) and Roosevelt (Sept. 23), in addition to, Ripon in the opener.
Saturday's matches will take place at Buttermilk Park with a 10 a.m. match against Edgewood followed by a 2 p.m. contest against Rockford.