UH strives for strong finish
The Cougars are coming off a 6-1 win April 16 vs. Louisville as they head into the Conference USA Championships tomorrow as the No. 9 seed.
They are set for a date with No. 8 seed Tulane in the first round. UH has had strong play as of late, notching wins in nine of their last 10 matches and finished the regular season with a 16-7 record.
“Clearly, to win nine of 10 matches you have to be doing something right,” head coach John Severance said. “We are playing well right now. We have a lot of confidence, we’re hoping to build on that and try and get out of conference with four wins.”
Tulane (11-10) has won eight of 11 matches and will look to extend a mediocre season. The Cougars and Green Wave did not meet during the regular season and their last meeting was more than two years ago in February 2009. The Cougars hung on for a 5-2 victory.
“Well, we’re a little bit shocked, very shocked that we are the ninth seed, but without conference scheduling, things like this can happen,” Severance said.
If the Cougars get by Tulane they will face No. 22 and top-seeded Tulsa on Friday, posing a tough route to a C-USA title.
After that would be a potential semifinal matchup with rival No. 4 seed Rice lurking if the Cougars get on a run.
“They’re a very deep team, they’ve got the No.1 seed, but you know you have to beat four teams to win the championship. They’re just another team in the way,” Severance said.
In the Cougars’ last match against Louisville they had strong play in their singles matches led by Dionne Sanders and Bryony Hunter.
“I’m confident in anyone at every position,” Severance said, “We’re all playing well, at least five of the six girls are playing really good on any given day,”
Sanders has won 11 straight matches, including a straight sets win in the Louisville match (6-2, 6-2). Hunter has won seven straight matches and also had a straight sets match win (7-5, 6-2) againt the Cardinals.
Louisville snagged one win in doubles against the Cougars as the Hunter-Sanders duo lost 8-5, and they need to bounce back strong and play like they have in singles matches.
“Doubles in general need to step it up even more,” Severance said. “We had a pretty good outing versus Louisville, but I think in general we need to step it up in doubles and give it a good shot for that one point.”
The C-USA Championships runs April 21-24 in Orlando, Fla., hosted by Central Florida at Lake Cane Tennis Center.
No. 2 seed SMU and No. 3 seed Marshall join top seed Tulsa and No. 4 Rice with first-round tournament byes.
The Cougars first test on the road to a title begins at 2 p.m. Thursday against the Green Wave.
“Tulane’s a very good team and I think it will be a very exciting match,” Severance said. “Probably the best No. 8 versus No. 9 match in the history of the conference tournament.”