By Abigail Bentz
For Unwind magazine
With over half of the team coming from foreign countries, the team dynamic and hard work of Maryland women’s tennis led them to the best start in program history with an outstanding 11-3 record.
The No. 38 Terps have come a long way since finishing 10-11 last spring. After one month of playing, the team was undefeated at 6-0, tying the record set a decade ago. They fell to No. 49 William & Mary, but have since added five consecutive wins, two of them against No. 47 Iowa and No. 48 Marshall, before their most recent two losses.
A diverse roster is not unique to Big Ten tennis, but the Terps have managed to succeed while representing six different countries: Israel, Japan, France, Slovakia, Belarus and the U.S.
Junior accounting major Ekaterina Tour, from Israel, started playing when she was 10 years old, and came to Maryland for an education along with the opportunity to continue playing tennis at a high level. Before Maryland, Tour was ranked internationally, representing Israel in the Fed Cup and the World Cup of Tennis.
Tour said they are finding success because of a common goal, even though the team is from all over the world.
“We are all kind of on the same page,” Tour said. “We want to study. We want to excel. We like what we do, so that’s how we can get along even though we are from different countries.”
This is Caroline Williams’ second year competing on the team. Williams, of Baltimore, enjoys the experience even though they face language barriers and cultural differences every day.
“Each of us are so different, but we all mesh and get along really well,” Williams said. “It has been a new experience for me to play tennis on a team because prior to college, I was playing for myself and tennis is strictly an independent sport. I couldn’t ask for a better group of girls to call my teammates.”
The players attribute the team’s success to their focused preparation at practice, but the Terps have also welcomed a new assistant coach to the program, Katie Dougherty, to work alongside head coach Daria Panova.
Prior to coming to Maryland, Dougherty was the head coach at Iowa for seven years, where she was the winningest first-year coach in program history. Before Iowa, Dougherty coached at American University, Penn State and Wisconsin.
Williams, a sophomore communication major, finds Dougherty to be a great addition.
“Dasha [our head coach] and Katie make a very powerful duo,” Williams said. “Their combined knowledge, cohesiveness and positivity is definitely a big reason for the team’s success.”
The Terps will continue their season in stride. So far, focus in practices and training has earned the team an intimidating record.
“We are just good,” Tour said. “We are practicing hard. We are getting things done. We are executing what we are working on, so this is what brings the success so far.”
There are a lot of games left in the season. The Terps face Penn State on Friday and No. 2 Ohio State on Sunday, but they will strive to make this the most successful season Maryland Tennis has ever seen.