By Kareemah Muhammad
Xavier University of Louisiana’s women’s tennis team will start their 2022-2023 season on Thursday, Sept. 15, at the HBCU National Championships in Atlanta, Ga. with the addition of three newcomers on the team.
New to the Gold Nuggets are: Mbali Langa of Johannesburg, South Africa. Langa is a transfer student from Hillsborough Community College located in Plant City, Fla. and is a sophomore now majoring in accounting. McKenna Danielle Wheatley of Madison, Miss. will also join Xavier women’s tennis and is a freshman majoring in biology/pre-medicine. Yi Chen Pao joins the team this year and is a native of Taichung City, Taiwan. Pao is a previous Xavier alumna now getting her master’s degree in Secondary Education Math.
Head women’s coach Alan Green said he is looking forward to having the newcomers join the team in hopes to add to the strong previous season.
“I’m really excited about our three new members of the women’s team. We ended the season pretty strong last year and we were able to add more talent to make us an even deeper team,” Green said. “These new additions will allow for more lineup flexibility and will also make us much stronger in doubles. We should be able to compete for a very high ranking this season and make a good run at nationals,” Green added.
They will join seven returnees, including Kareemah Muhammad, the sophomore 2022 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics All-American, and Juliette Finch, the 2022 NAIA Honorable Mention All-American.
“I really enjoy being on the team. I like the environment that we have and the relationships we are forming together. I believe we have a good team this year, and I’m excited to be a part of the journey,” said transfer Mbali Langa.
The season has only just begun, and the players said they are already setting a great team environment.
“After just spending two weeks with the team, I realized this is my place to be,” freshman McKenna Wheatley said.
Next up the Gold Nuggets travel to Atlanta, Ga. for the HBCU National Tournament that takes place Sept. 15 through Sept. 18, 2022. The Nuggets are the reigning champs and are looking to defend their title again with the advantage of the newbies on the team.
“I feel really good about this year. I have a good feeling we are going to go all the way, and take that red banner at nationals,” said 2022 NAIA Honorable Mention All-American Juliette Finch.