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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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“Our goal is to win it all”: Goldsmith’s final season in Aggieland features national title aspirations

Graphic courtesy of Pranay Dhoopar
Jayci Goldsmith

The 2022 campaign was a historic one for the Texas A&M women’s tennis team, as the Aggies captured their first SEC Tournament Championship in program history before falling in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals to cap off a record-setting 33-2 season. Now in the NCAA quarterfinals, the Aggies have earned a No. 2 ranking and look to continue reaching new heights.
Leading the squad will be fifth-year veteran Jayci Goldsmith, a key member of last season’s team who brings a wealth of experience and knowledge of the game to the program. Ranked as the No. 59 singles player in the nation, the Dripping Springs native will captain a roster composed primarily of underclassmen, albeit with the No. 3 2022 recruiting class and two nationally ranked sophomores in No. 8 Mary Stoiana and No. 89 Gianna Pielet.
“I think why we did so well [in 2022] is our culture,” Goldsmith said. “Everyone getting along; everyone pushing each other and actually wanting the best for each other, which I think is sometimes hard to find on a lot of sports teams. Some people want to take [someone’s] spot in the lineup; [they are] competing with each other, but we’re actually competing as a team.”
Indeed, perhaps the most significant trait of all successful teams is player relationships and culture. Half of last year’s crew consisted of upperclassmen, players who had spent plenty of time competing together and working toward a common goal, one that was achieved when the maroon and white claimed the conference championship. Now, with four freshmen, the experienced players are setting a new standard for the program.
“We do a lot of off-court bonding, and just having a great relationship with your teammates and knowing each other really well is what brings us together and pushes one another, on and off the court,” Goldsmith said. “[The underclassmen] can see from the older people what and what not to do, and what we have done well and how to build on that.”
Goldsmith played a pivotal role in the success of A&M’s 2022 season, forming a formidable duo alongside then-senior Tatiana Makarova. The pair put themselves in the Aggies’ record book with 35 doubles victories in 2022, good for sixth-most all-time and worthy of ITA Doubles All-American status. Goldsmith complemented her doubles play with a 29-3 record in singles play, a .906 winning percentage that ranks first in program history.
“[Tatiana] and I played for the past four years, my freshman [year] through senior year,” Goldsmith said. “This year we’re going to have to switch it up, but she’s still going to be on the court with us, because she’s our volunteer assistant [coach]. Tati and I finished great, we finished No. 2 [in doubles] last year, and I’m happy with that and am happy she’s back.”
Goldsmith was recognized for her accomplishments with All-SEC First Team and SEC All-Tournament Team honors. Her success was exhibited off the court as well, being named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll and SEC Community Service Team. Despite her athletic achievements, Goldsmith perhaps makes her biggest contributions in the locker room with her competitiveness and positive energy.
“[Goldsmith]’s always been one of those girls that everyone can look up to always do the right thing and be an example of what the team stands for,” Stoiana said. “She always works hard, she always brings it every practice. On match days, she exerts a sense of responsibility and looks like she knows what she’s doing, which is obviously true, since she’s been here so long.”
Goldsmith’s experience and guidance have proved valuable to A&M given the amount of young talent on the roster. Adjusting to the college game takes time, and every successful program needs veteran leadership to mentor underclassmen as they adapt and grow accustomed to the increased level of competition.
“She always goes out of her way to welcome the new freshmen, to talk to everybody on the team,” Stoiana said. “Me as a freshman last year, she was one of the first people I was in contact with. She always makes it a comfortable atmosphere for everyone on the team, she’s always laughing and smiling and making jokes. She’s just very friendly and welcoming, so I just think that attributes to a comfortable team atmosphere and gets everyone else feeling that sort of way … She definitely sets the stage with that.”
Goldsmith’s love of the game started at a young age as she transitioned to the sport and gave it a try. That experiment sprouted into a commitment that has seen her achieve her goal of playing tennis at the collegiate level.
“I started playing tennis when I was 9 years old, and my mom actually ran a tennis club in Austin,” Goldsmith said. “I’d just finished doing gymnastics, and she’s the one that pushed me to get into tennis, and I ended up really liking it. Ever since I was 11 and started competing, I was like ‘OK, my dream is to go into college and play tennis.’”
While competing at Dripping Springs High School, Goldsmith was named a blue-chip recruit and ranked as the No. 16 player in the country for the class of 2018, joining A&M’s No. 2-ranked signing class that period.
“I first visited A&M, then I visited a few other Texas schools and Alabama,” Goldsmith said. “Then I went back to A&M and visited [again], because it had been a while since I first visited A&M. And that second time, I was like ‘This place just feels like home.’ Everyone is so nice, I love the staff. I just knew it was the place for me, and I committed. My parents didn’t even know I was going to commit. It was an awesome visit, I was so happy, and [it’s] the best decision I’ve made.”
Goldsmith has had an influence on the program since stepping foot on campus, becoming a key piece of A&M’s lineup while improving her skillset through the years. Over the past four seasons, the Aggies have posted a 91-22 record overall, along with a 32-11 mark in conference action, including a perfect 13-0 showing in SEC play last year. According to coach Mark Weaver, the left-handed Goldsmith brings several tools and assets to the team.
“She’s a lefty, and that never hurts,” Weaver said. “The opponent on the other side isn’t used to seeing that type of ball very often, the spin comes off the racket a little bit differently. [Goldsmith]’s a big ball striker, she hits very hard and flat, and for the most part, the matter is in her own hands. She’s an aggressive player that goes for shots, and when she’s playing at the level she’s capable of, she’s a tough out for the other team.”
Much in the same way that Goldsmith can help improve the play of her teammates, she has seen herself develop not just as a player but as a person over her four-plus years under the tutelage of Weaver, the 2022 SEC Coach of the Year and ITA Texas Region Coach of the Year, and assistant coach Jordan Szabo. A former A&M player himself from 1990-94, Weaver took the reins of the program in 2015 and has guided the Aggies to a 143-57 record in that time.
“I feel like the coaches here, and all the staff members, honestly, have helped me develop my game on the court and off the court,” Goldsmith said. “I feel like I have learned so much from them in technique, [the] strategy aspect, but also my demeanor on the court and learning to play for a team and for the Aggies. [Weaver and I] have had a great relationship over the past five, six years.”
As she continues what may be her final season at A&M, Goldsmith is focused on her future. After graduating with a bachelor’s in university studies with minors in human relations and communication, she is pursuing her master’s in educational human resource development. Beyond college, she plans to pursue a career in medical device sales, but hopes to keep tennis in her life.
But first, the Aggies have business to take care of. Coming off of the winningest season in team history, Goldsmith and A&M have even higher expectations for this year while looking to establish a winning tradition in College Station.
“We feel like we’re more talented this year, and we want nothing less than a national title,” Weaver said. “That’s not going to come easy, but we have our four major goals — the NCAA Championships, the National [Team] Indoor [Championships], SEC regular-season [title] and the SEC Tournament [Championship]. Those are all very, I think, doable, only one team gets to do that … We feel like with the talent we have, if we do the right things, buy into the big picture and be a team in doing so, we think we’ve got a shot at any of those titles.”

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