Last year, Coupe had just completed his first season at the helm with a thin roster, and recruited aggressively to make sure this year’s team would be deep.
“When I got hired, it was really too late to bring anyone else in,” Coupe said. “We weren’t really at full strength, so I tried to really get on the recruiting tour early.”
While coaching at the University of Washington, Coupe heard about a talented high school player, Bott, in Beaverton, Ore. Bott was the former top singles player in the United States Tennis Association Pacific Northwest Section.
By the time Coupe started coaching at Cal Poly, Bott had moved to San Clemente, Calif. Coupe continued recruiting Bott, and she eventually joined him in San Luis Obispo.
Getting Oxnevad on board was less geographically convenient, but equally important. Coupe was able to get a commitment from Oxnevad, the onetime No. 3 player in New Zealand, thanks to some family ties.
Cal Poly’s renowned architecture program attracted Oxnevad, but she was in contact with other top schools such as California and Washington.
“I was willing to take her right away, and Cal and Washington were still trying to figure out what they wanted to do,” Coupe said. “We were very fortunate that she wanted to come here.”
Oxnevad starting looking at American universities two years ago, with a preference for West Coast schools to cut travel time. San Luis Obispo’s quaint size helped win her over, she said.
“I wanted to be in a small town because it’s similar to my hometown,” Oxnevad said. “I really love being in California because it’s much like back home, instead of like being on the other side of the country.
Klavins and Kepler joined the team as walk-ons at the beginning of the school year, and played in fall tournaments. They currently sit as backups, but no starter’s spot is guaranteed, Coupe said.
“They’ve been great, and they’ve been working hard, as well as the rest of the team.” Coupe said. “Every year, I sort of wipe the slate clean for all my players, and they have to earn a spot.”
For Klavins and Kepler, tennis is a family affair. Klavins’ twin brother Paul and older brother Lukas played on the Davis High School men’s tennis team, while Kepler’s brother Jordan is a junior on the Cal Poly men’s tennis team.
Oxnevad’s strong fall performance earned her the No. 1 singles spot, while Bott rests at No. 4. Bott has the edge in doubles, as her and senior Alexa Lee are No. 1 while Oxenvad and junior Gabrielle Gatewood hold the second slot.
The Mustangs started strong in the spring, sweeping UC Santa Cruz 7-0 in their first dual meet. Bott and Lee won their match 8-3, and Oxnevad and Gatewood cruised to an 8-0 victory.
In singles, Oxnevad defended her ranking 6-1, 6-4 and Bott dusted her opponent 6-3, 6-2 at the No. 3 spot.
The Mustangs have since run into No. 47 Washington and No. 54 Hawaii. The Huskies delivered a sweep of their own, while the Mustangs’ trip to Hawaii was soured by a 5-2 loss.
In the Hawaii meet, Bott rolled to a 6-2, 6-1 singles victory. Unfortunately, she strained a pectoral muscle in practice, and had to sit out Sunday’s meet against San Jose State.
Oxnevad took Bott’s spot at No. 1 doubles on Sunday, and won her match 8-7. It was one of the only highlights, as San Jose State handed the Mustangs their second straight 5-2 loss.
Win or lose, the four share a competitive bond as the youngest of the team, Oxnevad said.
“Our whole team’s really close, especially the freshmen. We do a lot together,” she said. “We all get on really well, because we’re all after the same thing.”