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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Tennis

Squad believes balance can help provide NCAA berth


UH expects junior Elena Kordolaimi to help lead it to an NCAA tournament appearance for the first time since 1997. | Aisha Bouderdaben/The Daily Cougar

UH expects junior Elena Kordolaimi to help lead it to an NCAA tournament appearance for the first time since 1997. | Aisha Bouderdaben/The Daily Cougar

Head coach Patrick Sullivan believes he has the right proportion of talented freshmen and veterans to have a well-rounded team that will compete in the American Athletic Conference.

After bringing in the No. 6-ranked recruiting class in the nation during his first season at UH, Sullivan added three foreign-born players who each have International Tennis Federation rankings.

Spanish-born Angela Lorenzo, who reached No. 41 in the Spanish Women’s Open rankings; Argentina’s Carolina Costamagna; and Serbian Mina Markovic are expected to mesh with veterans Elena Kordolaimi and Maria Andrea Cardenas to form a strong team.

“With about two in each class, the experiences each player holds can really show on the court.” Sullivan said. “Sometimes it’s weird when your better players are the younger players. But we’ve got low-ego, high-character upperclassmen that accept that respect that the young girls can really play.”

Winning every point possible is every tennis player’s focus, but this team has their eyes set on something bigger — the NCAA tournament. If the Cougars make it to the NCAA tournament, it will be UH’s first appearance since 1997.

With well-developed players who have won internationally, Sullivan said he has “high-caliber athletes” like Cardenas, who posted a 20-8 record while going a perfect 7-0 in singles last season at Auburn.

Cardenas exuded confidence when asked about the expectations for the tennis team. She said having positivity on the court will help make the team’s dream of reaching the NCAA come true.

“For myself, I want to play top of the lineup; all the season injury-free.”

Training for each player could be different. The style Sullivan chose to teach was to work with a single player and zone in on “the player’s personal strong suits and coach them to build their strengths.”

Sullivan and his coaches hold individual practices in which he can target two or three players and construct individual plans. If some need help with movement and others need to work on their strength, the individual practice gives each student the chance to perfect their craft.

Freshman Tina Rupert explained the tremendous amount of preparation and training each player does while off the court.

“We are running, having a trainer and going to rehab so we are not sore. We meditate before practice. We stay positive,” Rupert said.

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