Tennis hosts two top-ranked teams

Cougars will open up Pac-12 play against No. 6 UCLA, No. 16 USC

Junior+Savanna+Ly-Nguyen+is+undefeated+in+singles+play+so+far+this+season+with+seven+wins.

JACQUI THOMASSON | THE DAILY EVERGREEN

Junior Savanna Ly-Nguyen is undefeated in singles play so far this season with seven wins.

ERIN MULLINS, Evergreen reporter

The No. 47 WSU tennis team (5-4) will host a two-match homestand this weekend against UCLA (6-2) at 1:30 p.m. Friday and USC (6-3) at 11 a.m. Sunday at the Hollingbery Fieldhouse.

In their last match, WSU came away with a 6-1 win against Idaho in Pullman after a tough two losses in Seattle the previous weekend.

The Cougars will play in their first Pac-12 match of the season against the Bruins. UCLA will be a fearsome contender due to the fact that they are currently ranked No. 6 in the nation, according to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.

After facing UCLA, WSU will matchup against No. 16 USC on Sunday. USC junior Salma Ewing is the current Pac-12 Women’s Tennis Player of the Week large in part to her five-match win streak.

Although both USC and UCLA are strong contenders, WSU has some talent of its own. Senior Michaela Bayerlova has been a huge factor in WSU’s success all season long, as she is currently the No. 55 ranked collegiate player in the nation, according to the ITA.

“She’s proven she can beat anyone in the country,” head coach Lisa Hart said. “I feel like a lot of times with Michaela that the better the opponent the better she plays, actually.”

Fifth-year Melisa Ates was announced as the Pac-12 Women’s Tennis Player of the Week on Feb. 17, becoming the first Cougar to receive this award since 2019. Ates received the honor because of her pair of victories against Montana State and Gonzaga. Ates is currently team captain and she has been essential to the lineup her whole WSU career, Hart said.

Junior Savanna Ly-Nguyen is another Cougar who has been playing well as of late. She currently has a 7-0 winning streak in singles tennis play and is undefeated on the season.

“She is playing really good tennis right now,” Hart said.

Although the two teams the Cougars are going to face this weekend are highly ranked, Hart says this team is not going to stand down to anyone. She is also confident that her team has a chance to win because of their experience, with only one out of nine tennis players on the team being a freshman.

“I think that on the right day we could beat anybody in the country,” she said.

It has been challenging for the team to train and compete with all the restrictions that were put in part due to the pandemic, but the Cougars are doing a great job of handling these struggles, Hart said.

“I give them all the credit,” Hart said. “Obviously it hasn’t been easy for any of them.”

Catch the Cougars in action this weekend as they take on UCLA at 1:30 p.m. Friday and USC at 11 a.m. Sunday. The statistics for the UCLA match can be followed on StatBroadcast and the USC match can be watched on the WSU athletics website.