The Wolfpacker

March 2012

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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The Pressure Embracing squad. The conversation coincided with the release of King's book Pressure is a Privi- lege: Lessons I've Learned From Life and the Battle of the Sexes, and although no- A ■ PREVIEW WOMEN'S TENNIS body on the current team was present at the meeting, the message is still something that Olsen tells his team about. In fact, there may be no better time than now for the Wolfpack to hear about the topic King's message cen- tered on — dealing with pressure. "She had just written her book and she gave our team a great talk," Olsen remem- bered. "We still use that philosophy with our team now — pressure is a privilege. To be regarded as one of the better teams in the country is a huge privilege. To be seen as a team with a little bit of a target on your back is a privilege, and I think that's the approach we're trying to take this year." The program had arguably its best sea- son ever last year, which has brought about the added pressure. The Pack finished the 2011 campaign ranked No. 25 in the nation and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the third time in school his- tory. The squad narrowly missed a berth to the program's first-ever Sweet 16, and se- nior Sanaa Bhambri became the first player in school history to advance to the round of 32 in the NCAA Singles Championship while also teaming with classmate Sand- hya Nagaraj to become the third doubles team in program annals to reach the NCAA Championships. 82 ■ THE WOLFPACKER The Wolfpack Is Ready To Follow Last Year's Memorable Season BY RYAN TICE few years ago, when his team competed in New York, head coach Hans Olsen had tennis legend Billie Jean King talk to the NC State women's tennis Although Bhambri and Nagaraj have ex- hausted their eligibility, the Pack opened the season higher in the rankings than they did 12 months ago. After flying under the radar for most of last year, the Wolfpack started this season ranked No. 34 despite the losses of Bhambri, Nagaraj and Lenka Hojckova, the winningest doubles player in program history. "We had a really great season last year and we hope to build off of that," said sophomore Joelle Kissell, who takes over Bhambri's spot at No. 1 singles. "We don't want to think, 'Oh, that was so great,' we want to go higher than that. We're always hungry for more, but last year did give us confidence that we could be ranked that high. "We had a lot of matches that came down to one or two points — if things had gone a little differently, we could have been ranked even higher. I hope we are able to use last year in situations like that to give us confidence in the close, tight matches." Olsen agrees with his star sophomore and feels that his young team has made its biggest strides in their mental strength. "They've gotten much better with their mental approach as a group, they've gotten a thicker skin," Olsen noted. "In the fall, they were more sensitive at times to pres- sure, but now their skin is thicker to some of those situations. "As a young team, you've got to learn that. That thickness of skin, that toughness as a team, has been the biggest improve- ment from the fall to the spring." Kissell has spent the beginning of the spring atop the Pack's lineup in the No. 1 This season, sophomore Joelle Kissell has recorded victories over players ranked No. 18 and No. 55 in the nation at the time of the matches. PHOTO COURTESY NC STATE MEDIA RELATIONS

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