Senior Elisabeth Fournier became the all-time Cougar tennis wins leader on Jan. 27. Since then she has extended her total wins to 101.
Junior Liudmila Vasilieva currently sits at 79, with one full year of eligibility remaining.
Both will tell you the reason they are most likely going to go down as the two most winning players in WSU Tennis history is because they walk the thin line between teammate and opponent every day in practice.
“We have that relationship where we challenge each other,” Fournier said. “My sophomore year, which was her freshman year is a perfect example. We both had really great seasons and a lot of our big wins were in the same matches. We love each other off the court, but on the court we like to push each other.”
“She always pushes me to work harder. She’s very competitive,” Vasilieva said. “She always ready to fight. Ready to go everyday, every match, every practice she runs down every ball she can.”
Yet, both always find a way to leave their head-to-head battles on the court and out of the chemistry of the locker room.
“I see her a lot on the court and then usually we have a few minutes to cool off,” Fournier said. “Then once we see each other again we just go back to being friends. It’s never been a problem.“
“I can’t remember us ever having a serious conflict over anything,” Vasilieva said. “She’s my opponent when we play each other in practice, but once it’s over she still is my teammateIt’s a good thing we both realize that (laughter)… But we’ve always been teammates first, opponents second.”
The big racquets of Fournier and Vasilieva at the top of the lineup are a big reason the Cougars are in great position to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008, the season before Fournier’s freshman year.
“Every year that I’ve been here the program has gotten better and better,” Fournier said. “It just makes me wonder how far this program is going to go in the next few years. I think they have great possibilities.“
Vasilieva said as the lone senior on the team, Fournier’s leadership has been key to the incredible chemistry this year’s team has developed.
“She’s not only smart and good at her major, but she’s just a very responsible person. I can’t remember her ever being late to practice,” Vasilieva said. “She’s always doing the right thing and working hard and whether she plays professional tennis or gets an interview with an employer, I think they’ll see that.”
In a way, even when Fournier’s gone next year, she will still be their pushing Vasilieva in practice. With 79 wins, she has a realistic chance of breaking Fournier’s record next season.
“It’s just another example of us challenging each other,” Fournier said. “The more wins I get the harder I make it for her to beat it (laughter)… I don’t actually think about it that much to be honest, but I would be really happy for Luda (Vasilieva) if she beat my record next year. If she’s winning that many matches that means our team is doing well and that’s really what matters.”
While Vasilieva tries to chase down Fournier’s record in her senior season, Fournier said she plans to spend the summer in England entering professional tennis matches around Europe. She is also considering going to grad school using her economics science major.
But no matter where she goes, in some form the Ottawa, Canada native will still be in Pullman because of the example she set in her four year becoming the all-time Cougar wins leader. She has modeled to her younger teammates the recipe for team and individual success at the college level.
It comes down to a couple simple things: run down every ball you can and always be on time for practice.