Basketball practice for many of the area's women's collegiate squads opened last week and optimism abounds for the upcoming season.

AMERICAN: Coach Linda Ziemke made the most of her first full recruiting year, signing 5-foot-9 forward Jacqui Frazier, boxer Joe Frazier's daughter, and Jeanie Booros and Jan Gustin, all-state guards from Pennsylvania. They join veterans Sandy Thomas, a quard, forward Doreen Clarke and center Rhea Farberman.

BOWIE STATE: The Maryland state champions (31-5) lost only two of last years 11 players with four returning starters: 5-10 forward Annette Rolle, 5-8 forward Bonnie Washington, 5-9 guard-forward Ruth Boynton and 5-6 guard Barbara Jones. Coach Arlene Creek hopes to repeat an EAIAW tournament appearance.

CATHOLIC: The Cardinals (16-10) have 10 of 12 players back to attempt to make a thid straight EAIAW post-season tourney. The returning starters are guard Jane Connolly, who averaged 17.7 points per game; center Sharon Hodges, formerly of Holy Cross Acdemy, who averaged 14.6 points and 12.8 rebounds; forwards Bernadette Kerley and Maggie Chapman and Guard Patty Bell.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Bessie Stockard has transfers Alice Butler from American and Doreen Lefedge, a point-guard from Maryland, leading the way. Butler, playing for Stockard at AU, averaged 27 points in 1977-78, before missing last season with illness. Freshmen Sarah Beasley, an All-Met guard from Spingarn, and 6-1 center Louise Spriggs are the top recruits.

GALLAUDET: Guards Vicki Kitsemble and Lindy Deane and forwards Nancy Kirkland and Debbie Richards are returning starters from last season's 10-9 squad.

GEORGE MASON: Kathy Kleha, a guard who averaged 16.7 points; erin Cloyd, a forward who averaged 12.3 points and 9.3 rebounds and center Jeannine Nelson should step back into starting spots. Guard Carol Semansky and forwards Heather Podosek and Norma Horma Horne of Herndon High School are the new recruits.

GEORGETOWN: the hoyas have four starters back for their first AIAW Division 1 season: guard Abby Dillon, who averaged 17.5 points per game, guard Erin Reid, forward Maria DeVita and center Kerry Keefe. Kathy Hepp, a 6-3 high school All-America center from Medford, is the top recruit.

GEORGE WASHINGTON: All five starters are back from the squad which made the EAIAW postseason tournament two years in a row. Joining guards Laurie Cann, Gw's all-time leading scorer, and Patty Mccormick are forward Trish Egan, who averaged 15 points last season, centers Joan Nowotny and Leslie Bond and freshman guard-forward Micki Winovich, voted player of the year by the Pittsburgh Press.

HOWARD: Guards Dee Davis and Ella Hughes, forward Eyvette Weaver and guard-forward Deborah Peterson return. Essie Haney, a transfer from Grambling, and freashman Lisa Mungo, both 6-1, lead the new recruits.

MARYLAND: Chris Weller has back forward Kris Kirchner, center Krystal Kimrey and guard-forward Pam Reaves. A quartet of freshmen -- Debbie Lytle, Jasmina Perazic, Rachelle Willett and Dana Crone -- comes highly touted.

MONTGOMERY-ROCKVILLE: Rhonda Orndorff, who averaged 16 points and 19 rebounds per game, is the one returning starter from last year's team.

NAVY: The Mids have eight midshipwomen returning from the 17-7 team which played in the EAIAW tournament and was Maryland AIAW runner-up a year ago. Guards Colleen Cassidy and Kathy Walsh, forwards Bernie Boska of Hayfield High School and Lynne Coe and center Cathy Rayhill all started last season.

PRINCE GEORGE'S COMMUNITY COLLEGE: Guards Maggie Durkin and Susan Smith and forward Mary Nagle are Susan Smith and forward Mary Nagle are returning starters from last year's 21-6 Maryland Junior College and National Region 20 champions.

SOUTHEASTERN: Guard Cynthia Long will be at the heim as Southeastern will expand its schedule to 17 games this year.

VIRGINIA: The Cavaliers have five of their top six players returning from last year. Forward Valerie Ackerman set a Virginia record with 451 points (16.1 average) and will be joined again by Jackie Laverge, a forward from Langley High School; Melissa Mahoney, a quard from O'connell High School, center-forward Dori Gamble and guard Sandy Glasson.

The Cavaliers hope freshman Chrissy Reese and guard Collenn Mcshalley bring the same success to Charlottesville as they did in leading Holy Cross High School to two 28-0 seasons.