The University of Indianapolis Women’s Tennis team is back this year with a similar squad that led to a national championship appearance. They are carrying the same goals from last season, according to Head Coach Malik Tabet. Personal accolades are of many with this group, but that does not stop the team from staying hungry and staying true to the culture that Tabet has implemented.
“I think the culture that we’re trying to implement is that we’re never satisfied with our results until we get that national championship,” Tabet said.
This team is coming off of its most successful season in history, according to UIndy Athletics. According to Tabet, the team won the ITA National Indoor Championship in Oklahoma City, with a finals win over GLVC rival Southwest Baptist University, sweeping them 4-0. They also won the GLVC conference championship, with senior Nikol Alekseeva and senior Anna Novikova taking No.1 in ranked doubles. According to Tabet, the 2021 ITA Midwest Regionals, held already this year on Sept. 24 helps him benchmark where this team is currently at and what to do from here.
“One thing that I’ve done with my tennis programs every year is I keep trying to sharpen my coaching,” Tabet said. “Some things work, some things don’t. But at least my student athletes are aware of the changes that I’m trying to make, whether it’s for me to become a better coach and for them to become a better team… As a coach, you always try to improve your style. I don’t want to be old school, I want to be growing.”
Growing is exactly what Tabet has been doing. Tabet said he recently earned accomplishments of being named GLVC Women’s Coach of the Year, both ITA Midwest Regional Women’s and Men’s Coach of the Year, and National ITA Women’s and Men’s Coach of the Year last year.
Graduate student Isabella Dunlap, a former ITA All-American, is new to the team this year and brings in a storied resume with her. She reached the ITA National Championship match her first semester as a college student. Already this fall, Dunlap has won 2021-22 ITA Midwest Region Singles and Doubles Championships, according to UIndy Athletics.
Dunlap said she wants the team to continue to embody their mantra of winning and she hopes to contribute to it. She said she is very happy to be here.
“I have a lot of respect for the team,”Dunlap said. “When my coach left, I got on the transfer portal and contacted Malik. And he took a chance on me and I’m grateful for that opportunity. And it brought me here.”
The team mentality is already being shown in Dunlap’s actions, as she took the humility to say she still has to earn her place.
“You know, as a newcomer, I am still the newcomer,” Dunlap said. “I’m still kind of following in.”
The team as a whole has no shortage of talent with the added depth and returning players carrying on the culture of the program. One being Alekseeva, powerhouse for the team last season, who is currently still in Russia, trying to make it back to the U.S.
“Right now, my biggest concern for her is to make sure she gets back in January. We keep an eye on her very seriously. She’s a major component to our program, of course, number one player in the country in Singles and Doubles,” Tabet said.