After cruising past Eastern Washington last weekend in a 7-0 victory, WSU tennis is ready for their biggest test of the dual-match season this Saturday at 4 p.m. versus the No. 49 Sacramento State Hornets.
“This team is really hungry,” Head Coach Lisa Hart said. “I just get a feeling they’re on the verge of doing something special and we hope Saturday will be the start of that.”
WSU’s win against Eastern improved their record to 7-0, however if they want to move into the national rankings they will have to take down the Hornets who beat them last year in Sacramento in a tight 4-3 dual-match.
Hart feels this team is different from last years in a couple key ways.
“They compete really well and they want to win,” Hart said. “I think the difference on Saturday will be not only our talent level but our desire to compete.”
Junior Cougar Liudmila Vasilieva is a prime example of talent and desire. Combining the individual fall and team spring seasons, Vasilieva is 20-1 in her singles matches and 7-2 in doubles.
“She’s here to play tennis,” Hart said. “That’s sounds obvious but with college athlete’s that not always the case. More than anything she wants to win. To have that attitude at the top of the lineup helps our whole team tremendously. She’s willing to put in the time and work hard — doesn’t matter if she’s frustrated or tired, she gives everything she has every day.”
Though tennis is mainly an individual sport, Hart said it’s the team chemistry and the competitive nature of practice that has helped each individual improve their game.
“Everyone’s improved a lot even just from the start of spring till now,"she said."I can’t really point at one player that stands out among the rest because it’s been even across the board, which is a testament to how special this team is.”
Saturday’s matchup against Sacramento State will be the last of the Cougars eight-game home stand until they play Arizona and Arizona State during spring break. With a chance to crack into the national rankings, it will be one of WSU’s biggest matches in the recent years. Free pizza will be provided to anyone who attends the match at 4 p.m. in Hollingbery Fieldhouse.
“It really does help our energy when people show up and are in the stands,” Hart said.
Hart said she believes WSU’s depth will help them tremendously to accomplish what they couldn’t last season against the Hornets.
“We really believe that we can win at every position,” Hart said. “We feel good about everyone right now in our lineup and even those players that aren’t in the lineup. It’s a very exciting weekend for our team.”
Following Sacramento State the Cougars will head to Lincoln to play Nebraska and Miami (Ohio). It will be another opportunity for WSU to show they belong with the best in the country as Nebraska is currently sitting at No. 39 in the rankings.