Last year, the UC Irvine women’s golf team fared extremely well in the Big West Conference, taking the title and making an appearance in the NCAA regionals. After a year like that, one could expect a rebuilding year to follow for this fledgling sports program. But not in this case.
The Anteaters did not graduate anyone from last year’s squad, a fact that had coach Julie Brooks ecstatic.
‘I did expect last year’s success. I got to play with some of the girls when I began coaching [last year] and I was extremely impressed. The fact that I didn’t have any seniors was even more exciting for me. I was excited about this year, last year.’
The headline-returning player is senior Selanee Henderson. Henderson is the UCI career leader in tournament victories. She is a three time All-Big West Selection, and was Big West Player of the Year in 2006. She was named one of the top 50 players to watch in ‘Golf World’s’ College Preview.
‘Being a senior, she is looking to improve from last year. She is struggling a bit with her irons right now, but she will get over it. She had a busy summer, so when school starts she will get back in the swing of things and pick up from where she left off,’ Brooks said.
Like Henderson, the women’s golf team has gotten off to a slow start. They have only competed in one tournament, the Oregon State Tournament, and placed seventh.
The outcome was below expectations for a squad that has won three consecutive Big West Titles. The Anteaters shot well on the first two days, but a poor third day performance hurt their score.
However, that was only one tournament. The Anteaters look to get back into the same form they had last season. The returning players include seniors Kim Lorenzana, Jane Chin, and sophomores Patty Chawalitmetha, Henna Cho and Mariko Makabe.
Coach Brooks is in her second season at UCI. She came from the University of Hawaii where she was the assistant coach. She was given the job at UCI after the retirement of Coach Kelly Crawford. Coach Crawford, who was the first coach of the program, won three Big West Titles and a Coach of the Year honor.
Coach Brooks has done a wonderful job continuing the tradition of success, and aims to bring the program to the next level. She expects another Big West title and NCAA appearance. She says their toughest opponents in the Big West are rivals Cal State Long Beach and UC Riverside.
With three consecutive Big West titles under their belt, the women’s golf squad has added their team into the mix of UCI schools that are capable of capturing national attention.
If the Anteaters pick up where they left off, they should have no trouble winning the Big West a fourth straight year, and going on to contest the top team Duke for an NCAA title.
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