Derek Harrison/The Daily Evergreen WSU tennis got back to its winning ways this weekend as they took down Portland, Colorado and No. 40 Utah on their home courts.
“We played awesome. I was just so proud of our team,” Head Coach Lisa Hart said. “We’re competing better and better every match.”
The Cougars' record now stands at 15-5 and 4-3 in conference. The win over Utah was something none of the players on the current roster had accomplished before Sunday.
“The last couple years we felt like we had more talent,” Hart said. “We just didn’t compete well enough to get the win.“
Hart highlighted the elevated play of her three and four players, juniors Andjela Kankaras and Ksenia Googe, saying they were a big reason the Cougars have had their recent success.
“Andjela and Ksenia have been playing unbelievable tennis the last few weeks,"she said."It’s a culmination of everything. It’s nice to see them have success when they’ve put in so much hard work to get their.”
Googe won all three of her matches in two sets this weekend and Kankaras clinched the victory over Utah by earning the teams fourth point out of a possible seven.
“I think this year we believe in ourselves more,” Googe said. “We have more confidence, more desire, we’re just competing and demonstrating our character more than we have since I’ve been here. It feels really good to be contributing and doing my job to help us get these victories.”
After losing 7-0 to No. 9 Cal the week before, Googe said the team did a good job forgetting about the loss and moving on.
“We try not to stress about our losses,” Googe said. “Instead we try and analyze them and find things we can work on to get better.”
WSU was happy to see freshman Elizaveta Luzina back in the lineup this weekend after having her absent with a quad injury she suffered over spring break.
“I’m really proud of how she (Luzina) came back from injury,” Hart said. “I don’t think she played her best tennis, just because it’s hard to jump back into it and be as sharp as you were, but she competed well and got three wins.”
With three matches left, the Cougars feel good about their chances of reaching their pre-season goal of earning an invite to the NCAA Tournament.
“I think if we’re top 45, we’ll be in the tournament,” Hart said. “The rankings come out this week—the nice thing is it’s in our hands. We’re at No. 44 right now and should climb up in the thirties after beating a good Utah team. We just need to keep doing the things we’ve been doing. Controlling the things we have control over like focus and work ethic.”
“We want to make the tournament as much for our coaches (Lisa Hart and Assistant Ekaterina Burduli) as we do for ourselves,” Googe said. “All the work, patience and support they’ve given us just makes you want to compete for them with everything you’ve got.“
The Cougars remaining matches will all be played at home. They host Northern Arizona on Friday and finish regular season play by hosting Oregon and No. 48 Washington the following weekend.
“Our team just smiles a lot these days,” Googe said. “It’s a really fun group to be a part of. It just makes me happy to see my team at practice everyday.”