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Katarina Jokic, a sophomore from Novi Grad, Bosnia, high-fives teammates before the last regular season match against Vanderbilt University on Apr. 14, 2019 at the Lindsey Hopkins Indoor Tennis Courts in Athens, Georgia. Georgia defeated Vanderbilt 4-1. (Photo/Julian Alexander)

The Georgia women’s tennis team recently wrapped up its fall season with Katarina Jokic’s appearance in the Oracle Challenger Series, a Women’s Tennis Association event where she was able to capture a victory against Kayla Day, a professional ranked No. 434 in the world. 

Throughout the fall season the Bulldogs saw much success, resulting in six of nine players earning top 125 rankings. The team’s performance as a whole showed promise. With that being said, there were a few things that stood out.

Freshman steps in — and steps up

Lea Ma, the only new player on a loaded Bulldogs roster, made a name for herself during the fall campaign. After one semester of college play, Ma earned the No. 19 spot in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings. She remained undefeated until October when she lost in the Pepperdine Women’s Collegiate Invitational. Ma finished the fall season 14-5 in singles, while also contributing in several doubles victories. 

Head Coach Jeff Wallace was quick to praise the freshman, attributing her success to a smooth transition into competition at the college level.

“[Ma] has gotten used to a little bit different kind of grind, and I think that’s important for her,” Wallace said. “She’s really gotten used to the day-in, day-out way that things are done at the college level here.”

Vivian Wolff and Elena Christofi find success as doubles pair

The Bulldogs have experimented with several different pairs on the court this fall. The veteran duo of Vivian Wolff and Elena Christofi have emerged as the most successful. The duo finished with a 12-4 record and earned the No. 7 spot in the final ITA rankings of 2019.

Team unity off the court remains vital

Talent and hard work weren’t the only factors contributing to the Bulldogs’ success this fall. Unity and companionship were crucial as well and extend far beyond the game of tennis. 

“Every Friday we try to get dinner with all of us together,” senior Marta Gonzalez said. “Everything we do outside the court translates to how we play on the court, and that’s where we did really good last year.” 

Leadership from all angles

Veteran leadership is important on any team, and Gonzalez has provided just that for this year’s team.

“I’m a senior, so this is my last chance to do it,” Gonzalez said. “So I’m going all in.” 

Seniors certainly weren’t the only ones providing leadership this fall though. Ma explained that sophomore Megan Kowalski has been especially enthusiastic, proving that anyone can step into that role and make a difference.

“Meg is bringing it a lot, and we’re all just pushing each other in practice trying to get better,” Ma said. “We’re trying to win the NCAA finals, and we’re all pushing each other to get there.”

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