May 1, 2012
RALEIGH, N.C. - NC State women's tennis standout Joelle Kissell has had a breakout season during her sophomore campaign with the Wolfpack. Kissell has swung her way into the national rankings this year, making an appearance in both the singles and doubles polls in the most recent Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings.
Kissell is currently ranked No. 30 nationally in singles with a record of 15-9. She has defeated eight ranked opponents during the spring, including the No. 16 and No. 20 players. While Kissell enjoyed a successful freshman season last year, compiling a 19-5 record in singles, most of those wins came at the No. 4 and No. 5 positions, where as this year she has held strong playing at No. 1.
"I had a lot of wins last year, but I had a lot of holes in my game," Kissell said. "At the end of the season last year coach (Hans Olsen) and I met and talked about where we saw my game going, and I said I really wanted to play more aggressively.
"For me, I had always dreamt of playing number one, and I knew that in order to beat the number one girls in the ACC I would have to be more aggressive. So I worked really hard this summer to push myself to be more aggressive and come to the net, and I think that's what was critical in the tougher matches that I had this year."
Kissell is also ranked No. 59 in doubles action, with partner Ashley Miller. The duo, who has now appeared in two-consecutive doubles polls, has combined to build a resume that includes nine victories, with two wins over ranked opponents.
"That was amazing to get ranked," Kissell said. "We had talked last year about how much we loved playing with each other, and we knew we could play against the best teams in the nation. Just to have that ranking to show that we were just as good as the other teams was pretty cool.
"Ashley was the perfect doubles partner for me, she kept me calm and we would just laugh and have a blast every time we stepped on the court."
Possibly the most memorable victory for Kissell this season was a three-set win over Erina Kikuchi of Boston College in the first round of the ACC Championships. After falling 6-7 in the first set, Kissell stormed back to win the next two sets, 6-2, 6-0, to not only gain a win for herself, but also clinch a 4-3 upset over Boston College that allowed NC State to advance to the quarterfinals.
"That was unbelievable, I had never been in that situation where it was down to my match for the whole team," Kissell said. "I was kind of nervous, but I think the little bit of nerves kind of helped me. I was down 2-0 in the second set, and then after that I found another level. I wasn't ready for our season to be done and I just kept swinging and it turned out in my favor, so that was pretty cool."
Even though she is only in her second year with the Pack, Kissell is well on her way to rewriting the program's record books. She has won 72 percent of the matches that she has competed in, and has picked up 34 singles wins. She needs just five additional wins to crack the all-time top-10 overall career singles wins chart.
Kissell hopes that a few of those wins will come at the NCAA Singles Championship, which begins May 23 in Athens, Georgia. The selection for the tournament will take place on Wednesday, May 2.
"I was very happy with the season," Kissell said. "I made a lot of changes in the summer with my game, and I'm really excited with what's to come next. The selections are this week and I'm really excited to see if I get in, and then to move forward from there and see how far I can take this season."
Fans can tune in to watch the selection show at http://www.ncaa.com/news/ncaa/article/2012-04-09/spring-championships-selections