Cougar tennis will put their 8-2 record up against Brigham Young University (BYU) this Friday at noon in Pullman.
“BYU is always tough,” Head Coach Lisa Hart said. “We have to come ready to play. They’re a good program and we’ve always had some battles with them in the past. I think our team is in a pretty good place right now. As far as the way we’re competing goes, we’re making steps.”
Last year in Provo, Utah WSU defeated BYU 5-2.
“We’re excited to have BYU at home,” Assistant Coach Ekaterina Burduli said. “It’s always been a good match for us, and we’re excited to keep progressing slowly and take the season one match at a time, and keep our level up. We’re sure the results will just keep getting better.”
Hart stressed that the depth on her team gives her confidence they can beat any team in the country if they play to their potential. Especially with the one-two punch of one and two players junior Liudmila Vasilieva and senior Elisabeth Fournier.
“We had a one-punch when Eka (Burduli) was playing,"Hart said."But we’ve never had this kind of level of play at the one and two spots. It’s a great thing to have. We have great depth and we just need to come out and be ready to play everyday and I think we can surprise some people.”
With so much strength at the top of the lineup, Hart said she feels good about her teams chances of finding success in the dominant Pac 12 conference.
“I think all year, including the fall, we’ve lost four matches at the one and two spots, so that helps,” Hart said. “It’s exciting when you’re best two players are consistently beating other teams best players. When you can almost count on two wins like that, all you need is two somewhere else in the lineup to win the dual.”
Following Friday’s home match versus BYU, WSU will start making their way through the rigid Pac 12 schedule.
The current national rankings have Stanford at No. 1, UCLA at No. 3, Cal at No. 5 and USC at No. 7. The Pac 12 currently has six total teams in the top 30.
“If we finished in the top six in the conference, we’d be very happy with that,” Hart said. “That would probably put us in the top 30, which was our goal at the start of the season. The conference is that good. We came up just short against Nebraska and they’re projected to finish second or third in the Big 10, so that tells you something about how good the Pac-12 is.”
Nevertheless, Hart said she looks forward to starting conference play.
“Winning breeds winning,” Hart said. “The conference is loaded, but it gives us a lot of opportunities to prove ourselves.” WSU’s first conference math will be against UCLA on March 9.