By Eric Woodyard
Western Herald

Most women’s tennis programs would have been satisfied with compiling 15 combined victories in both singles and doubles over a three-day period while facing stiff competition on the road.

For the Western Michigan University women’s tennis team, this was just another day in the office.

“We trying to just improve right now, we don’t feel like beating those people was anything special,” Bronco head coach Betsy Kuhle said.

“We belong with the Minnesota’s and the Michigan State’s and the Iowa’s.

We like competing well with them and the last time we played Michigan State we beat them and the last time we played Minnesota we beat them so it’s not like we’re using that as some great stepping stone, we’re more concerned with how we’re playing and not necessarily who we’re playing.”

The Broncos earned their victories by travelling to Northwestern University last weekend for the Wildcat Invitational at the Vandy Christie Tennis Center.

There were teams from DePaul University, University of Iowa, University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin, University of Oklahoma, Michigan State University, Louisiana State University, University of South Carolina and University of Illinois-Chicago all participating in the tournament.

The Broncos began their onslaught on Friday when they attained seven combined wins. In doubles, two teams (Rachel Denny/April Kerr and Maria Nivia/Jill Pastunink) advanced to the championship rounds of their flights.

They also picked up three singles wins when Nini Sujashvili, Miloslava Shustova, and Jill Pastunink all opened with victories.

On Saturday, the team won the Flight B doubles championship when Nivia and Pastunink defeated Anya Morgina and Katherina Popova of South Carolina, 8-5.

Senior Amanda Moccia and sophomore Maggie Remynse also won a doubles consolation over Michigan State, 8-3.

The Broncos wrapped up the tournament on Sunday with the team earning three more wins in singles.

Sujashvili defeated Peta Lancaster of Oklahoma, 6-2 and 6-4.

Nivia won 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 over Katarina Lingl of Michigan State.

Pastunink defeated Cali Gustafson of DePaul 3-6, 6-1, 6-1.

The leaders for the Brown and Gold for the weekend were Nivia, Pastunink and Sujashvili who all had 2-2 singles records.

“We’re competing extremely hard and getting better every weekend and I was particularly happy with their level of competition and how hard we competed,” Kuhle said.

“This weekend I would say that everybody was really good [but] I think Maria Nivia and Jill Pastunink really showed some promise in their doubles.”

Nivia is a junior from Cali, Colombia who attended La Arboleia School prior to joining the Broncos.

Pastunink is a sophomore from Zeeland, Mich. who attended Zeeland West High School before coming to WMU.

The team will pick back up action on Oct. 21 when they take a trip to Ann Arbor for the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Midwest Regional with hopes of moving one step closer to their ultimate goal.

“We’re making a lot of progress and we do everything in hopes for trying to bring home a MAC Championship, that’s our goal,” Kuhle said.

“So I think we’re making the right moves and we’re doing all we need to do.”

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By Eric Woodyard
Western Herald

The scholarships for the women’s tennis team had already been awarded when Amanda Moccia enrolled in Western Michigan University during the fall of 2007.

Equipped with two seniors and two juniors, including Moccia’s older sister, Ashley, the roster seemed to be set.

This was until the younger Moccia showcased her skills to the head coach, Betsy Kuhle and the rest was history.

The Livonia, Mich. native was allowed to compete for the Broncos as a walk-on and exceeded all expectations for the 2007-2008 season.

By the end of the year, she was named to the All-MAC Tournament team after going 6-0 in singles, went a perfect 10-0 in MAC regular season and conference tournament singles, and ranked third on the team with 21 overall singles wins. “My first year it felt awesome [because] when you come in, you really don’t know what college tennis is all about and what being a college athlete is all about and how much work you have to put in,” Moccia said.

“It felt great because it’s kind of like you’re reaping all rewards for all your hard work at the end of the year and I think I’m definitely ready to get back to that this year.”

Three years have passed since her freshman year and Moccia is now a senior and the captain of her squad.

She has had a successful career but she hasn’t been able to win another MAC title since that first time.

As her days begin to dwindle down as a student-athlete for the Broncos, her sights are set on matching this achievement.

“For this year, I think the biggest goal for myself always comes in the spring season, which is winning the MAC,” Amanda Moccia said.

“I haven’t done that since I’ve been a freshman so I think it’s about time we do that this year and then that way I go out with a winning year.”

Not only is Moccia content on becoming a champion in her conference, but she also focused on making her teammates better.

Moccia understands that every person learns in a different way.

“It depends on the person how she’s been able to lead,” Kuhle said.

“Some of the younger players she’s really had to befriend a little and some of them I think she’s had to put the hammer down on them so it’s just an individual thing but she’s able to do both.”

Under Moccia’s leadership, WMU has been able to excel. Last weekend at Northwestern University in the Wildcat Invitational, the Broncos compiled 15 combined victories in both singles and doubles.

On the second day, Moccia and sophomore Maggie Remynse won a doubles consolation, 8-3, over Michigan State University.

While her intensity is in full throttle while in competition, she’s able to differentiate the two in her free time.

“I’m a pretty outgoing person. On the tennis court, I’m usually trying to stay level-headed and not be too loud but I think outside of the court I’m pretty outgoing and loud,” Moccia said.

“I kind of take on two different roles as an athlete and as a person so it’s kind of like my alter ego.”

Mastering the ability to differentiate her playtime from when it’s time to be serious is why Moccia has been so successful at WMU.

As Moccia gets prepared to “walk on” away from Kalamazoo, she leaves a mark behind her in Bronco athletics that is rarely accomplished from a “walk-on” who wasn’t even given a scholarship as a freshman at the university.