Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Kristina Schleich, a freshman from Lilienthal, Germany, already knows the meaning of responsibility and leadership on the Colorado women's tennis team as she has played at the No. 1 singles spot for the majority of her debut season.
Schleich stepped into the No. 1 singles role for the first time at the collegiate level on February 26 against then No. 38-Rice where she rallied from a set down to secure her first win. 5-7, 7-5, 1-0 (11-9), in her new position.
Schleich added a second victory after her second match at the top slot. She leads the Buffaloes with most singles wins (16) and most spring wins (8).
In her last 12 matches, she holds a 5-7 record after playing five ranked opponents. She logged her first Big 12 Conference victory after beating Oklahoma State's Nataliya Shatkovskaya 6-4, 6-3. Before she moved to the top spot, she was undefeated (3-0) at the No. 3 position.
"Krissi has done a great job playing at No. 1," head coach Nicole Kenneally said. "It is always tough for a freshman to go up and play in the No. 1 spot. There is always a learning curve for freshman playing college tennis, but that learning curve becomes even bigger when a freshman steps into the top singles spot. Over the course of the first third of the season, Krissi earned that spot from her teammates and has battled well while continuing to learn more about herself and her game."
"It was kind of a surprise when I came here," Schleich said. "I was not expecting being a freshman in the No. 1 spot. I started the season early at the No. 4 spot and then slowly got to the No. 1."
Schleich had big shoes to fill after last year's Monica Milewski graduated forcing another Buff to step up. Milewski was just the second Buff all-time to record 91 wins in a tennis career at Colorado. She earned five All-Big 12 honors (three singles/two doubles). She also was the only CU women's tennis player to be invited to the NCAA tennis singles tournament. Although Schleich never played alongside Milewski, her legacy is not unfamiliar to the freshman.
"Right now it's hard to compare us because she was a senior and already had more experience, but I think I can get to that point if I'm working hard enough," Schleich said. "She was very good."
Schleich's hard work has not gone unnoticed throughout the season as Coach Kenneally says she "is one of the hardest workers on the team day in and day out. Her ability to continue this and push herself is a great way for her to help her game as well as that of her teammates.
"Krissi has some days of frustration now because she feels she is close and can see what she needs to do, but these experiences will only benefit her further down in her career. All the experiences she has this year is only going to make her better and mentally tougher for the years to come."
The young Schleich doesn't let the Melewski Legacy discourage her and get in the way of her goals.
"I want to win as many matches as I can," Schleich said. "I want to play well for my team. I always go out there wanting to win. I just want to help my team and help myself."
Schleich's hard work and leadership this season is paving the way for her own legacy as a Colorado Buffalo.