The offseason is here, with all of Arizona’s sports done for 2021-22 and the 2022-23 campaigns still a little ways away.
Which makes this a great time to step back and see how all of the Wildcats’ programs are doing.
Over the next few weeks we’ll take a look at each of the UA’s 19 men’s and women’s programs to see what shape they’re in and what prospects they have for the near future. 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 while also looking at this season and beyond.
Next up: Ryan Stotland’s women’s tennis team.
How it looked before
Women’s tennis has consistently been one of Arizona’s bottom performing programs. In the last decade, only two players have qualified for the NCAA Singles Championships. The Wildcats regularly finish near the bottom of the Pac-12 standings.
In 2018, Ryan Stotland was hired to change the course of the program. Stotland came to Arizona from Fresno State, where he led the Bulldogs to three Mountain West titles in five years. The New Mexico alum is a former elite NCAA doubles player himself.
Where things stand now
In each of Stotland’s first three full seasons, Arizona posted a .500 or better winning percentage, including a record of 16-11 last year. The Wildcats, however, went 3-7 in Pac-12 play and were eliminated in the first round of the conference tournament. Junior Kayla Wilkins and outgoing grad senior Salma Ziouti each were named All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention.
What’s going in Arizona’s favor is young, emerging talent. In 2022 Arizona’s top singles player was freshman Parker Fry, a former top-75 recruit. The Wildcats also received strong play from freshman Midori Castillo-Meza. Next year Arizona brings in a top-20 recruiting class highlighted by Tucson native Tanvi Narendran, a five star recruit, and Canadian Reece Carter, considered a blue chip prospect.
One big question
Can Arizona make the NCAA Tournament? In four seasons under Stotland, the women’s tennis program has picked up serious momentum. The Wildcats were ranked as high as No. 47 last year. The postseason has alluded the program thus far, and until Arizona makes the NCAAs, Stotland will feel like there’s a giant monkey on his back.
By returning Wilkins, Fry and Castillo-Meza, Arizona has a solid core to build on next year. If the freshmen can contribute quickly, this is a team that should have the depth to beat most high-major programs it faces.
As the men’s tennis program has shown in the last few years, winning on hardcourt is possible in Tucson. Stotland’s program is ready for its own breakthrough.