The Washington State tennis team will head to Lawrence this weekend to kickoff the 2011-12 season at the Kansas Invitational.
The event will feature between six to eight singles draws and one to two double draws.
“We’re really excited to play against someone other than ourselves,” Head Coach Lisa Hart said. “So far, practices have been very competitive and at a very high level. We’ve got a lot of talent in our program right now.”
Most of that talent comes in the form of familiar faces. After having just two upper classmen on their roster last season, this year’s squad features five.
“Even just in practice, our experience is really showing when you compare it to this time last year,” Hart said.
Led by lone senior Liz Fournier and new team captain Andjela Kankaras, a more experienced squad just means high expectations from its head coach.
“We’re building upon last year. The results are ready to happen,” Hart said. “Our players want those results. I don’t think they’ll be satisfied without a lot of wins and a lot of good play.”
Hart says that even though the team only features one captain, the overall leadership on the team has been noticeably better from previous seasons.
“The returning players have really been stepping it up in that department,” Hart said. “That’s something we’re better at this year.”
Of course, Hart is also hoping some of that experience will rub-off on her new talented class of freshmen, which features Elizaveta Luzina and Anastasia Romantsova (Russia), Charlotte Koning (The Netherlands) and Samantha Merry (Richland, Wash).
“We’re really excited about what these girls bring to the table,” Hart said. “They make up for their lack of experience with talent, and we’ve got big expectations for them.”
With a blend of both experience and talent, the Cougars feel confident about playing a schedule that features 11 teams that were ranked nationally at the end of last season.
That includes schools such as Colorado, Kentucky, Indiana and Kansas this weekend.
“We have a really special group this year, and we’re excited to get out on the court against some outside competition,” Hart said.
The Cougars will host their annual Cougar Classic next weekend in Pullman.