COC women’s tennis poised for standout season

Freshman Mary MacAdam extends for the ball in a match against Santa Barbara City College on Feb. 13. // Photo courtesy Jesse Munoz/COC Sports Information
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College of the Canyons women’s tennis has been off to a dream start in the 2020 season with an 8-1 record overall record, going 4-1 in Western State Conference play after a 7-2 win against Bakersfield Thursday afternoon at College of the Canyons.

The Lady Cougars began the season with a 6-0 start, outscoring their opponents by an average margin of 7-2 and two all-out wins in which they didn’t drop a single match.

“I think our team has had high energy,” said freshman Mary MacAdam. “Everybody is super encouraging of each other. Our coach emphasizes fight for every point, mentally stay in it.”

MacAdam has been an anchor for the Lady Cougars this season as she has gone 8-0 in all of her singles matches. Even more impressive is her coming from a high school that did not have a tennis program for her to participate in.

“We’re very impressed with her motivation and her overall enthusiasm,” said head coach Patty LaBat of MacAdam. “She’s the one we want on the court when we’re tied at 4-4.”

MacAdam places all her good fortune to start the season on sophomore Una Stanisavljevic. MacAdam says she is her motivation and someone she wants to play like as he progresses her skills as a tennis player.

“When I first started the season, I literally said Una was the queen of this tennis team and she was my role model in how I play tennis,” MacAdam said. “I think I’ve tried to imitate her.”

Taylor Cohen volleys a ball in a match against Rio Hondo College on Jan. 30. // Photo courtesy Jesse Munoz/COC Sports Information

LaBat agreed with MacAdam. Stanisavljevic has been a huge part of the success, especially so in a leadership position. 

A leader like her is hard to come by, LaBat said. Stanisavljevic may be a quiet person, but it’s not always vocal people that are the best leaders. She makes herself a good leader through leading by example.

LaBat uses Stanisavljevic’s experience and skill to put the Lady Cougars in the best position to win each match. As the team leader, it is her role to take on the toughest girl on the opposing team.

However, Stanisavljevic attributes a large part of her success to things off the field. More specifically starting the day properly in the dining room.

“For me, personally, it’s eating breakfast. Having food to function, that works really well,” she said.

Another key piece to COC’s hot season has been freshman, and former Hart tennis star, Jennifer Russell. She is another one of the Cougars’ players who is 8-0 in singles matches.

“She was No. 1 in the conference for high school at Hart,” LaBat said. “This year, she just keeps everything in play. She’s improving and she’s winning all of her matches.”

The Lady Cougars’ lone loss this year has come to current Western State Conference leader, Santa Barbara. They lost 7-2, but three of the matches were so tight, they could have made turned it into 5-4 Canyons’ win.

“They’re always good competitors,” Stanisavljevic said. “They always have new incoming freshman from foreign countries so it’s kind of harder to compete with them, but it’s fun to have them here and see who wins.”

Jennifer Russell returns a ball in a match against Santa Barbara City College on Feb. 13 // Photo courtesy Jesse Munoz/COC Sports Information

LaBat said she wishes she could recruit foreign players but prides herself on utilizing the talent that comes out of her own backyard. Nine of COC’s players hail from Santa Clarita, while the other two are from North Hills and Burbank.

The one conference loss has COC in second place in the WSC and poised for a jump to first at the first opportunity.

“We’ll see you, Santa Barbara. We’re coming for that No. 1,” MacAdam said.

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