After a break in the schedule last weekend, WSU tennis will enter the heart of their season in Southern California this weekend as they start conference play and take on No. 1 UCLA and No. 4 USC.
“A lot of the time in-season, it’s hard to work on specific things cause you have to roll over every single weekend and play another match,” senior Elisabeth Fournier said. “But since we haven’t played a match for almost two weeks now, we really got to work on some particulars and we’re really geared up and fired up to play. And playing the schools we’re going to play, we really need that attitude.”
It will be a true test for the Cougars, who have been flirting with breaking into the national rankings for a few weeks now but have come up just short of that signature win.
“We’re excited about getting some warmer weather,” Fournier said “But we’re really excited to have this opportunity to prove ourselves. I think our freshman have really come a long way in that in particular. They’re realizing that we’re pretty good and that these teams aren’t unbeatable. And if we come out with that attitude where everyone fights hard and thinks they can win, we have a good chance at pulling of an upset.”
Junior Liudmila Vasilieva will have the biggest upset to pull off. She broke into the top 100 of the ITA individual rankings after she picked up her sixteenth consecutive victory against BYU two weekends ago. She now sits at No. 72 and has a chance to beat Robin Anderson, UCLA’s No. 1 player and the No. 5 player in the country. The next day she will matchup against USC’s top player Zoe Scandalis, the No. 13 player in the country.
“We’ve tried to stay business as usual at practice and just focusing on doing the things we do even better,” Head Coach Lisa Hart said. “UCLA and USC are amazing programs, but we can’t panic and try and do things we’re not familiar with.”
Following their two consecutive matches against two of the top teams in the country, the Cougars will have a busy spring break as they travel to Boise St. on Wednesday, then turn around and host No. 24 Arizona on Friday and No. 23 Arizona State on Sunday.
Both games start at 11 a.m. at either Hollingbery Fieldhouse or the outdoor tennis courts depending on the weather.
“Our girls are great students,” Hart said. “But I think as players they’re excited to be able to really just focus on tennis for the week. I know as coaches we’re looking forward to the next five matches.”
Fournier said she hopes anyone who is around over break will come support the team.
The Cougars currently sit at 9-2 on the season as they look to make a run at an NCAA tournament appearance.