It may seem like college sports are always going on, but July is the one month of the year when no Arizona Wildcats teams are in action. Yep, we’re as sad about that as you are.
Before you know it, the 2019-20 seasons will be under way for Arizona’s 19 men’s and women’s sports. But in the meantime, now is the perfect opportunity to assess how each of these programs are doing.
Over the next few weeks we’ll break down each team and evaluate how it is performing under its current coaching staff, looking at the state of the program before he/she arrived and comparing it to now (as well as looking into the near future).
Next up: Ryan Stotland’s women’s tennis team.
How it looked before
Tennis may be Arizona’s least successful sport, and the women’s squad has been down for quite some time. Though Vicky Maes, the greatest player in program history, had led the Wildcats to eight NCAA tournament appearances in 17 years, she was asked to step down after the 2018 season in which her team lost all 10 Pac-12 matches.
Maes, who was a four-time All-American from 1995-98 and the Pac-10 Player of the Year in 1996, hadn’t made the NCAA championships since 2015.
Athletic director Dave Heeke tabbed former assistant Stotland to succeed Maes in June 2018, hiring him away from Fresno State where he went 55-37 in four seasons with two NCAA bids. Stotland was part of Maes’ coaching staff from 2009-12.
Where things stand now
Stotland’s first year showed some positive signs, with Arizona winning two Pac-12 matches and upsetting Utah in the conference tournament—the Wildcats’ first-ever Pac-12 tourney win—before falling to No. 2 seed UCLA. Emma Wilson, a senior who had transferred from Fresno State, was an all-conference honorable mention.
Three of Arizona’s most-used players were seniors, however, with only four returning players for 2019-20. However, Stotland managed to bring in two more transfers in Abby Amos (James Madison) and Kristen Prelle (UTEP).
One big question
Can Arizona recruit locally? The last in-state player on the roster was Maggie Cohen, who was part of the team from 2014-18 but was not a key contributor. Most of the players the Wildcats have signed in recent years are from outside the United States, which will apply to almost everyone on the 2019-20 roster.
According to the Tennis Recruiting Network, there are four Arizona natives among the top 100 players in the Class of 2020. If any of them opt to play college tennis, getting one to come to Tucson would be huge for the program’s future.