The Idaho State women’s tennis team is the youngest in the Big Sky Conference, as all nine members are in their freshman season. The team was picked to finish 8th in the conference preseason polls.
Despite its youth, the team received 44 votes in the preseason polls put together by league officials, tied with Northern Colorado and more than Montana, Southern Utah and North Dakota.
Head coach Gretchen Maloney views this as an advantage, saying that there will be a learning curve that continues throughout the season.
“There’s really no pressure,” said Hristina Cvetkovic, a freshman from Nis, Serbia. “No one knows what we’re capable of.”
Cvetkovic came to ISU from the Tennis Academy of Zivkovic and has begun using skills she gained at the academy.
During her time there, she learned what it was like to play on a team through doubles play, which has made the transition to collegiate tennis easier.
Over the years, a large amount of her support came from her mother, Ana, who is a former tennis player and coach.
“She never coached me, but she would watch every single match, I knew what to expect here,” Cvetkovic said.
“I think this season will go very well,” said Huibre-Mare Botes, a South African native.
Botes was homeschooled during her time in South Africa, yet made the transition to college life easily – she was already used to being self-sufficient and says she appreciates the collegiate atmosphere more. She’s fond of being on a team of all freshmen because the dynamic is different from being on a team with mixed levels of experience.
“No one is trying to be the boss,” Botes said.
Botes and Cvetkovic are two of four international players on the squad this season.
ISU has another player from South Africa on the roster, Botes’ sister, Louise-Mare and a player from British Columbia, Angela Walker.
After the two-month break between the fall tournaments and the spring season, players came back refreshed and ready for the spring season challenges ahead.
While the team has faced some injuries in the past, the biggest challenges will come from conference teams, most notably Weber State.
Weber State placed fourth in preseason polls, behind Sacramento State, Northern Arizona and Idaho.
“No one really knows about tennis [at ISU],” Cvetkovic said. “We really want to put it on a higher level.”