May 6, 1999
PULLMAN, Wash. - The 31st-ranked Washington State women's tennis team will make its second consecutive postseason tournament appearance after the NCAA committee selected the Cougars for the field of 64 teams Wednesday.
WSU (9-10) drew Mississippi State (8-10) in the first round and will open play May 15 at host University of Georgia in Athens, Ga. This will be the Cougars' first meeting against the 56th-ranked Bulldogs.
"I'm really pleased with the draw," said WSU coach Cari Groce after the announcement was made. "It will give us an opportunity to meet our goal, which is to advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament."
The Cougars captured their first tournament berth last season, but lost at Nevada-Las Vegas 5-1 in the first round.
Washington State's nine-member contingent includes 32nd-ranked Erica Perkins (Seattle, Wash.), Patrycja Gajdzik (Szczecin, Poland), Tamara Filipovic (Belgrade, Yugoslavia), Andrea Reisz (Pecs, Hungary), Melissa Pine (Newfoundland, Canada), Sarah Burrows (Lakewood, Colo.), Moniek Van de Ven (Cape Town, South Africa), Helen Frankland (Derbyshire, England) and Marcie Malone (Longview, Wash.). Perkins and Burrows combine in doubles and are ranked 48th nationally.
"It was kind of nerve racking the way they announced the bracket on TV this year," Groce said. "The team was very excited and they shot out to the court as soon as it was announced. During the selection process the kids kept saying, 'don't worry, we are in,' but I kept saying 'seeing is believing.' Then they would say, 'no, just breath, we are in.' Every once in a while they would look over to see if I was still breathing."
This is the NCAA's inaugural year to select the tournament field for women's collegiate tennis on a nationally televised selection show.
The winner of the WSU-Mississippi State match-up will move into the second round of the tournament against either host Georgia or Central Florida May 16 at Athens.
ADDITIONAL QUOTES FROM CARI GROCE:
TRAVEL: "My plan is to travel Tuesday and then get acclimated to the climate and the time change. We need to give ourselves a couple of days to practice in that kind of weather. Having grown up in that kind of weather, I know what it can take out of you. None of our players are used to the weather they will experience in Georgia.
LINEUP: "I don't know what we will do at the fourth and fifth singles positions. Melissa (Pine) has not gotten over a virus she has had for two weeks, so we may put Andrea (Reisz) at four and Melissa at five, but we will wait until next week. Erica (Perkins), Patrycja (Gajdzik) and Tamara (Filipovic) will be our one, two and three players and Sarah Burrows will be at six.
SIGNIFICANCE OF TV COVERAGE OF NCAA ANNOUNCEMENT: "College tennis coaches are trying to promote the sport and the tournament and the television coverage will help. We are trying to make the sport exciting for the fans, more collegiate rather than a Wimblton atmosphere where you just watch. This is a huge step toward that. We want people to be excited about college tennis."