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Thursday, January 21, 2021

Tennis

Sullivan’s squad focuses on game, not glory


In head coach Patrick Sullivan's second season, UH has broken into the national rankings.  | Jenna Frenzel/The Daily Cougar

In head coach Patrick Sullivan’s second season, UH has broken into the national rankings.  |  Jenna Frenzel/The Daily Cougar

Valentine’s Day wasn’t on the Cougars’ minds as they faced Kansas on Friday and Mississippi State on Sunday. The team was concentrating on giving their best effort, which concluded with a weekend win and loss.

Kansas seized a 4-3 victory, but UH rebounded to defeat Mississippi State 5-2 to improve its season record to 5-1.

“Our main focus (was) to be focused on that and that alone — not any accolades that we’ve recently gotten or anything like that, but just focus on the task at hand,” said head coach Patrick Sullivan. “It’s nice to have a ranking, but it goes away in a heartbeat if you don’t take care of business.”

The accolades include the team being ranked No. 66 nationally along with two of its players. Junior Elena Kordolaimi is ranked 122nd and freshman Despoina Vogasari is ranked 125th in singles play.

“Obviously it’s a start, and it’s a good start, but that’s nothing compared to what my goals are. I mean it’s good. I feel really good about my tennis right now, but I think I can be even higher, and I’ll just try for the best until the end of the season,” Vogasari said. “I don’t have a number, but my goal is just to be the best that I can be.”

The team hasn’t been in the national spotlight since 2002, when it was ranked No. 61. Nor has it seen two players with national rankings in the past 29 years. Sophomore Maria Andrea Cardenas said it’s great to be part of this success.

“We have a great opportunity to (have) the best year we’ve had — well this school has had — in so long,” Cardenas said. “I think we’ve been doing it so far, so let’s just keep it up, and I think you’ll be seeing us a lot more in the headlines.”

In Sullivan’s second year as head coach, he has recruited ranked classes and supported his players on and off the John E. Hoff Tennis Courts; some players aspire to go pro and others to excel on the collegiate stage before beginning corporate careers. Sullivan said all the credit for an early successful season goes to his players.

“My job is really easy. I’ve got high-character talented girls out there. … As long as I keep them happy, healthy and fit, they’re going to go out there and win matches,” Sullivan said. “I expected this, and I expect more in the future. Really, our No. 1 priority is to take care of our bodies and take care of business in the classroom and be able to come out here and compete.”

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