Cougar tennis folds under pressure

The Cougars ended their home-win streak Saturday when they hosted New Mexico State. The overall match came down to the last set in the No. 1 singles competition, but the Cougars were unable to finish and lost to the Aggies 4-3 at John E. Hoff Courts.

"We need more experience. Our freshman struggled Saturday with the pressure. I told the girls that pressure is their friend, and they should embrace pressure and use it to their advantage," UH head coach John Severance said.

Houston falls to 8-6 for the season with the tough loss. There is only a month left before the Cougars host the Conference USA Tennis Championships, and this young team must use all their future matches to learn to play well during the critical moments of a match.

"We’re not executing during the pressure points," Severance said. "It only takes a couple points here and there during each match to make a big difference."

In the No. 2 singles match Houston senior Leila Salek took out Aggies senior Zeljka Juricek 6-1, 6-2. New Mexico State junior Stephanie Eusebe defeated Cougar sophomore Nelia Starratt 6-0,6-2 in the No. 3 singles.

Salek teamed up with junior Jordan McCombs in the No. 2 doubles match showdown against Juricek and Eusebe, but came up short and lost 8-6.

Junior Lynley Wasson and freshman Joanna Kacprzyk lost 8-6 to New Mexico State senior Anne Fagegaltier and junior Paulina Zuniga in the No. 3 doubles competition. However, Wasson did not give up without a fight when she met up with Zuniga again in the No. 5 singles and demolished her 6-0, 6-2.

Freshman Lucy Forward and junior Vicky Simpson battled Aggie sophomores Aleksa Costa and Sophia Marks but lost 8-3 in the No. 1 doubles match. Simpson overpowered New Mexico State freshman Bianca Discordia in the No. 6 singles match 6-3, 6-2, but Forward came up short in a critical No. 1 singles match against Marks in the final points and lost 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

"We have a young team, and I have to keep reminding myself that we are going to make young mistakes," Severance said. "You just kind of hope you make those mistakes when the match is not on the line, but you can’t control when that happens."

The Cougars will continue to improve on the things that need work the most, and would like to have enough experience to be at the top of their game by the C-USA Championships in April, he said.

Monday’s match against C-USA opponent Central Florida was postponed because of the weather, but the Cougars anticipate jumping back into a win streak when they compete against Sam Houston State at 2 p.m. Wednesday at John E. Hoff Courts.

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