Get to know Ryan Stotland, UA's new women's tennis coach
In a sudden and unexpected move last month, women’s tennis head coach Vicky Maes stepped away from her position, one that she had held for 17 years.
After the conclusion of another winless season in the Pac-12 and the team seeming to fall apart after a 6-0 start, Maes felt like it was a good time to make way for another voice and direction.
Arizona chose former UA assistant and Fresno State head coach Ryan Stotland to take over the middling Wildcats program.
Stotland comes off a season in which he led the Bulldogs to the Mountain West Conference championship game and a first round appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
That success is an indicator that the up-and-coming coach is checking all of the necessary boxes to be ready to take over a Power-5 conference program at Arizona — one of the most prestigious conferences in women’s tennis.
The Pac-12 features perennial powers in UCLA, USC and Stanford, who all compete for national championships every year.
Stotland won’t be taking over a program that is bare-bones, with the core of the team being mainly underclassmen that have experience under their belt.
The Wildcats lose only two players from this past year’s roster, with returning players Camila Wesbrooks, Mary Lewis and Paris Corley all looking to be compete for the top spot in the rotation.
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Stotland will have a little breathing room in bringing in high-end talent to the Old Pueblo as the roster he has inherited will be able to carry the Wildcats for next year and maybe the year after.
In turn, that should be helpful in getting the young coach established in Tucson.
The good news for Stotland is that the 2018 mid-season collapse had many different factors that led to it, including family issues with certain players and injuries up and down the roster.
As a result, the Wildcats were never able to regain their early rhythm. This can be looked at positively for Stotland, knowing that what derailed the team wasn’t a lack of talent or effort, but rather things out of Maes’ control.
With a group that figures to be refocused after a team trip to Japan — one that will be listening to a new voice and philosophy for day-to-day operations — this young group of Wildcats could go on to surprise some people early on.
With a new, yet experienced, coach in Stotland, Arizona women’s tennis could be a dark horse in the Pac-12 if the right pieces come together.
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