The WSU tennis team set a goal all the way back in August — make it to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008.
Ranked No. 32 in the country with a 64-team tournament bracket, that goal is coming closer and closer to being achieved as they approach their last two dual-matches of the regular season.
“I think we’re going to make the tournament and that’s really exciting,” junior Liudmila Vasilieva said. “This will be all of our first time, so it’ll be great to get a chance to compete against the best.”
This weekend, the Cougars will go up against conference opponents No. 65 Oregon and No. 50 Washington on Friday and Sunday at 11 a.m., respectively.
“I’ve never seen a team as excited to play on one weekend as this team,” senior Elisabeth Fournier said. “Even though we have a lot of freshman who have never played against UW, they know the importance of this match.”
WSU’s tournament resume has become impressive enough that at this point they’re not just playing to make the tournament, rather they have an opportunity to improve their seeding with a sweep this weekend.
“We’re looking to improve our ranking as much as we possibly can at this point. But I think we’re doing a good job of keeping our focus on this weekend,” Fournier said. “We’re not looking ahead too much. We know it’s there; it’s at the back of our minds. But right now our focus is, let’s beat the Ducks, let’s beat the Huskies.”
A victory against the rival Huskies on Senior Day would be an especially sweet way for Fournier to walk off a Cougar tennis court for the last time. WSU lost to Washington last year in a highly contested 4-3 match.
“It’s Liz (Fournier’s) senior day,” Vasilieva said. “So knowing her I’m sure she wants to see us beat Washington pretty bad. That’s all the more incentive to go out and play even harder.”
“Everyone’s fired up,” Fournier said. “Especially me as this is going to be my last match in Pullman. It would be the perfect way to go out if we beat them. We’re a lot better this year than we were last year, so it would be really fun to just go out and take care of business.”
The games will be played at either the Hollingbery Fieldhouse or the outdoor tennis courts depending on the weather. But Vasilieva says rain or shine, the Cougars will be ready.
“I’m confident we can out-compete and beat both these teams this weekend,” Vasilieva said. “We may end up playing our matches outside, but we’ve been practicing both in and outdoors this week, and feel good either way.”
Next up for WSU will be the highly competitive Pac-12 Championships at the Ojai Valley Athletic Club in Southern California from April 26-29. The conference currently features four teams in the top 10 of the country in No. 1 UCLA, No. 4 USC, No. 6 Stanford and No. 10 Cal.