Cougars Fall to No. 2 Florida at NCAA Championship
May 12, 2012
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The Washington State women's tennis team saw its season come to an end with a 6-0 loss at No. 2 Florida Saturday at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex.
With the loss the Cougars (19-7) complete one of their most successful seasons in school history by matching school-records for overall wins, conference wins (6) and reaching the NCAA Championship Second Round for only the second time.
"I am so proud of everyone on this team," said Head Coach Lisa Hart. "Today we lost to a better team but I thought we competed well, especially at number one early on. Near the bottom of our lineup Liza and Olga came out well and gave us a chance to get something going but we couldn't stay with it."
Florida (23-1) opened the day by taking the top two doubles matches for the opening point. At No. 1 the nation's top-ranked duo of Allie Will and Sofie Oyen defeated Ksenia Googe and Andjela Kankaras 8-1 followed closely by Lauren Embree and Joanna Mather's 8-2 win over Liudmila Vasilieva and Elizaveta Luzina at No. 2. The Florida duo, ranked No. 22, clinched the doubles point while the No. 3 match between WSU's Elisabeth Fournier and Charlotte Koning and Florida's Alexandra Cercone and Caroline Hitimana was abandoned with the Cougars leading 4-3.
In singles play WSU started strong and held first-set leads on four courts. At No. 3 Mather, ranked 21st nationally, was tied with Kankaras at 2-2 but captured 10 of the next 13 games to win 6-3, 6-2, giving the Gators a 2-0 lead. The margin increased to 3-0 when No. 79 Cercone defeated Koning 6-0, 6-2 at No. 5.
Florida was one win away from clinching the match and with match points simultaneously being contested on three separate courts; all three went Florida's way for the final margin of victory. On court No. 4, Luzina had held a 4-3 lead while serving in the first set before Oyen, ranked 61st, stormed back to take the next nine games for a 6-4, 6-0 win. Moments later the match on court No. 1 finished as the nation's top player, Will, rallied from 3-1 down in the first set to post a 6-3, 6-1 win over No. 51 Vasilieva.
On court No. 2 Embree, ranked ninth, capped a solid victory with a 6-2, 6-3 win over No. 108 Fournier within seconds of Vasilieva's match. The loss ends Fournier's brilliant career at WSU, one which saw her twice break the single-season wins mark (31 as a sophomore, 32 this season) while leaving as the Cougars' all-time singles victories leader with 108.
The lone remaining match was abandoned on court No. 6 as WSU's OIga Musilovich was trailing Olivia Janowicz 7-5, 5-1. Musilovich held a 5-3 lead in the first set before Janowicz took control of the match.
"Give all the credit to Florida," said Hart. "I think they are an outstanding team and they came out and played fantastic in doubles. Roland (Thornqvist) is a terrific coach, they are well conditioned and just a great team.
`It's no fun to lose, obviously, but Florida has been a great host and it's really been a good experience for our players," Hart continued. "The win (Friday) against Florida State was good for our program and I was proud of the way our players battled through the heat and won that match. It shows that our program is making great strides, can compete at a very high level and certainly raises the expectations we have of our program. We had a great season but after our match no one was satisfied and that attitude will serve us well heading into next season."
Though WSU's season ends as a team, Vasilieva will participate at the 2012 NCAA Singles Championship, being held May 23-28 at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga., following the conclusion of the team championship (May 17-22).
WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY TENNIS
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