Freshman Ashlee Pickerell
Aug. 22, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee women's golf team officially opened the 2012-13 season on Wednesday, conducting the first team practice of the year. This season's squad boasts four returners and two newcomers, as the six joined together for the first time as a team at Holston Hills Country Club.
"Everybody's ready to play," head coach Judi Pavon said. "Everybody is excited about practice getting started. The first few days when you get in town are so busy with moving, meetings, getting your books and figuring out where your classes are. The one place they're comfortable is the golf course so they're excited to be out here and everyone looks good."
Leading the Lady Vols into her 13th season, Pavon has high expectations for the upcoming year. The Big Orange looks to make a fifth-straight appearance in the NCAA Championships, and bump up into the top 10 rankings. During the 2011-12 campaign, Tennessee recorded seven top-10 finishes, including two tournament titles at the LSU Classic and Bryan National Collegiate en route to concluding the season ranked 15th in the nation.
"We've got a really solid team," Pavon said. "The core of the team returned from last year and two good newcomers coming in. I really feel like our goal of being a top-10 team is right there. We're going to have to work at it. We're going to have to get some really consistent play. But that's our goal."
LAST TIME AROUND
Sara Monberg steps out to Holston Hills to begin her last collegiate season. One of two seniors on the squad, the Denmark native anticipates a strong year for herself and the team.
"It's my last year, I'm going to play relaxed," Monberg said. "I think I know everything by now, so I should be able to have a good season, but you never know. Golf is golf. But I'm just going to do what I've done the other years and hopefully I'm going to shoot some lower scores and have a good year."
IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT
With one year of experience playing at the collegiate level, AJ Newell returns for her sophomore campaign with determination.
"I think that the main thing that has changed is that I'm going to go into this year with more confidence having a year under my belt," Newell said. "As a freshman, you're kind of uncertain about everything, but I hope that as a sophomore, I can go out and play with more confidence. And know that as a sophomore you've got to step up and start to lead the team a little bit."
Newell competed in nine tournaments as a freshman. She had two top-10 finishes, and most recently, captured the Pure Silk Women's Team Collegiate Championship title with senior Erica Popson.
"I'm really excited about this year," Newell said. "I think we have a great team and a great group of girls. I think we're all capable of playing very well and hopefully doing some great things this year."
UP TO PAR
Freshman Ashlee Pickerell took to the course for the first time Wednesday. The product of Salem, Ore., was a three-time all-state honoree and three-time conference player of the year during high school, but looks to continually improve her game as part of the Big Orange.
"I'm really excited for this year," Pickerell said. "I really hope to bring my game to the next level. I know there's so many things I need to work on, but I'm really excited to get better at those. It just kind of solidifies it's the next step in my journey."