WSU tennis prepared for two matches this weekend with a midweek thumping of Portland yesterday at the Hollingbery Fieldhouse.
With the win, the Cougars record improves to 13-5.
WSU will also host new conference opponents Colorado and Utah today and Sunday at 11 a.m.
“This is a really important weekend for us,” Head Coach Lisa Hart said. “Colorado and Portland aren’t in the national rankings, but they’re two teams that are much improved. And Utah, we play them every year so they’re not new to us. It’ll be a battle but I’m really proud of the way our players have prepared this week.”
The No. 35 ranked Utes may be new to the conference, but fourth year senior Elisabeth Fournier — who has seen her team come up short against Utah the last three years — knows them all too well.
“They are one of those teams I just really want to beat bad,” Fournier said. “We always have close matches with them, and this year I know we’re better and we’ve got an opportunity to finally get the result that I’ve wanted to see for the past three years.”
If the Cougars sweep their home court this weekend and notch two more conference wins including one against an evenly ranked opponent, they will be halfway towards their goal for finishing out the regular season — to win their last six matches.
“We need to play our best tennis and win out the rest of the way,” Fournier said. “It’s very feasible, the two teams we play that are ranked are right about where we are in the standings. That should improve our rankings and give us a good shot of knowing for sure we’ll be in.”
By doing so, WSU would put themselves in a strong position for an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, something that has not been done since spring of 2008.
The rest of the Cougars schedule also includes match-ups against Northern Arizona, Oregon and ending with No. 48 ranked rival Washington.
After dropping their match last weekend 7-0 against No. 9 Cal, WSU went from a ranking of No. 38 to 44. When the Cougars made the NCAA tournament in 2008, they were ranked as high as No. 34.
Fournier said the highly competitive Pac-12, which features four teams in the top 10 of the nation, could potentially make it hard for the Cougars to get an automatic bid.
“That may be the case,” Fournier said. “We’ve never been in this situation since I’ve been here so I don’t know much about the process, but I do know that it does make it hard being a part of a conference where almost every team is ranked.”
However, if the Cougs win their last six matches, that should be enough for them not to have to worry about being on the selection committees bubble list.
The Cougars also have key freshman contributor Elizaveta Luzina back in the lineup this weekend. She has been out since spring break with a quad injury.