UW Health Sports Medicine 

First-year head coach Tina Samara reflects on inaugural season at UW


May 5, 2014

MADISON, Wis. -- Following the 2013-14 campaign, Wisconsin women’s tennis head coach Tina Samara reflected on her first season with the Cardinal and White.

Any coach will say that there are going to be tough times with the changes and culture of the team,” Samara said. “We ended up with a small roster. When Becca (Bailey) was added as a walk-on in Jan., that was huge for us.”

On Senior Becca Bailey…
Coach Samara: In all of my years of coaching tennis, I have never run into a walk-on like Becca. What she brought on and off the court was this great attitude and fight, not to mention the work ethic that she has. She was able to win some key matches for us. When you win 6-0, 6-0 in the Big Ten, it’s a big deal. It is hard to win 6-0, 6-0 against anyone. For her to come out after four years and play for us was a big thing. She brought a lot of stability and perspective that we needed on this team. Overall, her season wasn’t great with the numbers, but she did some great things out there.

On Sophomore Lauren Chypyha…
Coach Samara: Chyps is playing No. 1 singles and managed a 13-0 streak. This was not any easy schedule by any means. It is hard to win that many matches in a row no matter who you play. During that streak, she only had two matches even go into three sets. This season she beat players, Tereza Brichacova from Minnesota, who she had lost to in the fall and Allison Falkin from Illinois, who she had lost to in regionals. She beat them in straight sets and she did it pretty easily too. For her to turn it around and beat them, it shows how much she has improved. She is willing to go outside of her comfort zone and work on things that she doesn’t necessarily want to do. But it helped her with her success and great things will come out of it in her future.

On Sophomore Anastasia Tripolskaya
Coach Samara: Last year, (Anastasia) started playing at No. 5 singles. This year we worked her up to No. 2 singles. She has made huge improvements this year. Even with a bad shoulder where she could barely serve, she went and beat a top-20 player. Then she won the Sportsmanship Award for the Big Ten for her sportsmanship and ethical behavior both on and off the court. Both of those accomplishments say a lot.

On Sophomore Lauren Burich…
Coach Samara: Burich had a pretty good year. She was really sick for a while and she lost some of her confidence from it. Despite being sick, she was still able to beat Nebraska. Overall, she has a great attitude. She is the one that is always going to be positive and really is connected with the team. I have no doubt that she will continue to get better. She has the ability to play at an extremely high level. She just needs to work on getting her confidence back this summer.

On Sophomore Nova Patel…
Coach Samara: Nova has obviously had some restrictions this year physically. She is coming off of surgery from last year, she has two bad knees and a bad elbow. Despite that, she is an extremely talented ball striker. She knows how to be smart on the court when she plays. This year she pushed through her matches and got the wins that we needed.

On Freshmen Sydney Rider…
Coach Samara: Sydney had a rough year. She started off pretty good in the fall and spring but then she broke her wrist. I think in the last couple of matches she lost her confidence. She needs to hit a lot of balls and figure out how to handle things at the college level. Like Burich, I have no concerns that she will figure it out. She has worked very hard and she brings good energy to the team. She is young and has a lot of work ahead of her. As tough as her year ended up, I think that is not going to be the story that we talk about three years from now.

In retrospect, Samara learned a lot about her team in her first year while also realizing, “For me, I was never really familiar with the Big Ten. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the other teams,” Samara said. “I think the Big Ten has some really high standards for coaching, players and administration. I don’t think all schools do that with that level of integrity. Wisconsin has been extremely supportive of me. It has been easy for me as a coach to sell Wisconsin both on and off the court for recruiting. The reputation of Wisconsin speaks volumes. I am really fortunate and grateful to be working at this school.”

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