WSU tennis went 3-2 during spring break as they played four top 30 ranked opponents — all of whom reside in the Pac-12. Their record now sits at 12-4 overall and 2-2 in conference play.
On March 9, the Cougars headed down to Southern California to take on the No. 1 ranked UCLA Bruins and were downed 7-0 as they played their first outdoor match of the dual-season.
The next day they took on the No. 4 ranked USC Trojans and fell 6-1 in a dual that was closer than the score indicates.
“We lost three singles matches in three sets,” Head Coach Lisa Hart said. “We were actually closer to beating them than we’ve been in previous years. It was kind of a turning point for our team. I thought we played pretty good, but that we competed very well.”
The Cougars lone victory against USC came from WSU’s top player, junior Liudmila Vasilieva, who beat Zoe Scandalis, the No. 13 ranked player in the country, in three sets.
Last Wednesday, the Cougars then finished their road trip against the Boise State Broncos where they avenged their loss from last season in dominate 5-2 fashion, with all of their singles victories coming in just two sets.
“We lost to Boise last year, but this year was totally different even though their team was very similar to last year’s,” Vasilieva said. “We really felt like we came out and really played well.”
Returning home to host both Arizona schools for the weekend, WSU first beat No. 26 Arizona 6-1 by winning every singles match after dropping the doubles point. Hart highlighted the performances of her No. 3 and 4 players juniors Ksenia Googe and Andjela Kankaras for clinching the victories in two sets each.
“I think our players came to the courts knowing they were going to win, and they showed that in the match,” Hart said. “Then on Sunday it was just kind of like, why not just do it again.”
In upset number two, the Cougars beat No. 27 Arizona State 5-2. It was WSU’s first victory over the Sun Devils in the 19 times they’ve gone head-to-head.
“I think (the wins this weekend) just give us so much confidence and now we’re really look forward to the rest of our season,” Vasilieva said. “We feel like we’re at a top 30 level. We’ve felt like we were on the verge for a lot of the season, but it was definitely a break through winning this weekend.”
The Cougars will find out Tuesday how high they climbed in the national rankings.
“Those wins are just such a testament to our girls and the way they believe in each other and compete,” Hart said. “All year we’ve been talking about how we belong in the top 30, and I think after this weekend they really believe that now.”
WSU’s No. 2 player, senior Elisabeth Fournier, was named the Pac-12 player of the week for her performance against both Arizona schools. Against Arizona, Fournier took down the No. 85 ranked player in the country, Natasha Marks winning handily in two sets, 6-2, 6-0.
In her match against Arizona State’s Michelle Brycki, she represented the competitiveness that is coming to define this year’s Cougar tennis team and battled back after dropping the first set to clinch a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
However, the Cougars’ first ever win over the Sun Devils was clinched by freshman Charlotte Koning, who beat Hannah James 6-2, 6-3.
“I think she felt a little pressure to close the match,” Vasilieva said. “But we really tried to rally behind her and encourage her and she responded very well. That’s a big win for a freshman to have.”