First year Missouri tennis coach implements new approach to matches

Thursday, September 15, 2011 | 8:58 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Sasha Schmid sat in the stands at Memorial Stadium, watching the Missouri football team against Miami (Ohio) and taking in the atmosphere with her tennis team.

It was Schmid's first game watching the Tigers play and one of the first activities she organized for the Missouri tennis team. As the new head coach, she wanted to spend time with her players and watch some Missouri football.

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"It was a nice bonding moment for us," she said.

The spirit and energy on the sidelines and in the stands impressed Schmid. Watching the game got her thinking about what she wanted to accomplish at MU, she said.

"I want to bring success stories like the other programs at Mizzou to our tennis team," she said.

Schmid was named head coach of the women's tennis team in late April. Since taking over the position, she has kept herself busy: Meeting the team, scouting future players and adjusting to a new city are only a few things on her to-do list.

The Missouri tennis program has had only two winning conference seasons in 36 years, making recruiting a challenge.

Schmid spent the majority of her summer scouting tournaments in the Missouri Valley Conference. Over the next two recruiting cycles, she hopes to find some international players, as well.

"We are looking for players who fit our model," she said. "We want aggressive players who can play in our system." 

Implementing a new approach for the team has been Schmid's primary goal this summer. The approach involves a greater emphasis on high-percentage shots and keeping the ball in play.

But learning the new system has been a rocky process for the team.

"We have put in a new practice plan that's taken a little getting used to," Schmid said. "But the team has taken to it well, and I think it will help us in our doubles matches."

Schmid believes improvement in doubles matches is the key to future success for the program. A new doubles system involves serves aimed more at starting rallies than scoring aces.

"Last year we were a little weak in that area," she said of doubles matches. "But our new serve-and-volley system will help us be more aggressive and get better results."

Schmid said the team has been improving in their 12 preseason practices and, energy is high. She thinks her team is ready to achieve their goal.

"We want to be top four in the conference," she said. "Top 40 nationally, as well."

Those goals seem lofty for a team that finished 12-10 last season, but Schmid thinks they are possible.

"There are no limitations to what we can achieve," Schmid said.

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