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Friday, September 21, 2018

Sports

Tennis hosts ECU with conference tourney on the mind


The tennis team will play its third conference matchup this season Friday, this time against the ECU Pirates. With only three matches remaining, the Cougars need a strong showing to prepare for the conference championship. | File photo/The Cougar

The tennis team will be putting its undefeated home record on the line this Friday as it faces off against conference foes the East Carolina Pirates.

This is the Cougars’ third conference matchup of the year, with the most recent being a 4-2 loss to the South Florida Bulls. With the American Tennis Championship approaching, this matchup with ECU will be one of the last opportunities to improve on their 1-1 record against conference opponents.

The Pirates come into the match with an overall record of 12-6 and 1-3 in conference play. While the team has been near perfect at home, going 4-1, its away form has not matched that level.

Two players to watch from ECU will be sophomore Nastja Rettich and junior Celia Ruiz. Rettich currently holds an overall singles record of 12-3 and 3-1 in conference play. Ruiz holds an 11-3 singles overall record with a 2-1 record against conference rivals.

With the conference championship approaching, there are several other teams the Cougars need to keep an eye on in the AAC.

Defending conference champs USF are 11-7 overall and 4-1 against conference rivals. After struggling in the beginning of the season, going 2-7 to start the year, the team got back to its winning ways and is on a nine game winning streak.

USF’s top two performers this season have been juniors Vanja Klaric and Nicole Dzenga. Klaric is 12-5 in singles play while Dzenga is 12-4. The pair plays together in doubles play and holds a record of 16-7.

The Tulsa Golden Hurricane, last season’s runner up, is 16-4 overall and undefeated in conference play with a 4-0 record.

The two players to watch for Tulsa are senior Ksenia Laskutova and sophomore Martina Okalova. Laskutova holds a 19-6 overall record in singles play and is 16-7 in doubles matches. Okalova is 18-5 in singles play while being 17-7 in doubles matches.

The Cougars have enjoyed a great season after ending the last two years with losing records. The team has had strong showings from top performers sophomore Tsveta Dimitrova and senior Sveva Mazzari.

The team will face off against the ECU Pirates at noon Friday the Barbara Wallace Winston Tennis Facility.

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