The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

WSU tennis drops three, wins one against Pac-12 rivals to begin Conference play

Cougs lost in LA and at home, beat Colorado
WSU tennis players Eva Alvarez Sande and Elyse Tse high-five during an NCAA doubles match against Eastern Washington, Jan. 20, 2024, in Pullman, Wash.

After four straight dominating victories against Portland State, Montana, Fresno State, and Gonzaga WSU tennis began Pac-12 Conference play. 

Holding onto their 8-2 record, WSU has an impressive start to their 2024 campaign. They are undefeated in Pullman and while they have two road losses, the team has shown great improvement this year. 

Starting conference play, WSU traveled to California to face UCLA and USC before returning home for matches against Utah and Colorado. 

UCLA March 8

To begin Conference play, the Cougs traveled to the Los Angeles Tennis Center for their match against the No. 19 UCLA Bruins. This was the first Pac-12 match for either school.

The event began with doubles as UCLA was able to clinch the beginning point. UCLA’s No. 66-ranked doubles partners Sasha Vagramov and Ahmani Guichard defeated Hania Abouelsaad and Martina Markov 6-1. Needing a comeback to secure the doubles point, Eva Alvarez Sande and Elyse Tse also fell short in a 6-3 loss to Kimmi Hance and Anna-Christine Lutkemeyer. With UCLA earning the doubles point, the third match showcasing WSU’s Yura Nakagawa and Fifa Kumhom did not finish. 

Up 1-0, UCLA did not stop their reign of terror on the Cougs, completely sweeping them on the day. In some good news, Alvarez Sande and Abouelsaad kept up with their competition, both forcing tiebreakers before ultimately dropping their games. Markov also kept her game relatively close, holding the lead up until the end in both sets.

While it is easy to get on the Cougs for having a tough game, WSU still competed and found areas to improve on while still focusing on their next matchup against USC.

USC March 9

After their recent loss to UCLA, WSU kept a short memory as they traveled to Marks Stadium in Los Angeles for their matchup against the No. 11 USC. USC (8-4) entered this game coming off of a 4-1 victory against No. 25 Washington, staying undefeated on their home court.

As the match began between the two hot schools, WSU jumped ahead in an early doubles victory. Alvarez Sande and Tse posted a 6-4 win, meaning WSU needed one more doubles victory through two games to secure the point. Things would get a bit tricky as Nakagawa and Kumhom dropped their game 6-4 to the No. 36 Grace Piper and Parker Fry, knotting the doubles round score to 1-1. With the doubles point on the line, Abouelsaad and Markov sadly came up short in another 6-4 finish as USC secured a 1-0 lead on the day.

Not long after, singles play began and USC jumped to a 2-0 lead with the Trojan’s McKenna Koenig defeating Abouelsaad 6-3, 6-1. WSU regained life soon after as Kumhom won her match giving the Cougs a point. With the score being 2-1 in USC’s favor, WSU’s Tse lost her match against No. 31 Emma Charney. 

Now down 3-1, the Cougs were in a tough spot, needing to string together multiple wins for a comeback. In one of her best matches, Nakagawa put together an incredible 7-5, 6-4 victory against No. 51 Piper, giving WSU the life they needed and making it close again. 

Shortly after this Markov and Alvarez Sande lost the final two matches of the day. This gave USC a 5-2 lead and the victory. While the Cougs put up a good fight, they still fell short, moving to 8-4 on the year.

Utah March 15

The Cougs returned home to face Utah after dropping their first two Pac-12 Conference games. Entering this matchup, Utah (9-3) was coming off of a 4-2 win against Oregon, improving their home record to 6-0 and securing their first win in Conference play this season. 

The Cougs started the day off hot, taking it to Utah in doubles play. Nakagawa and Kumhom showed out, defeating the Ute’s Kat Lyman and Samantha Horwood 6-0. Alvarez Sande and Tse followed this performance with a 6-2 victory of their own, securing the doubles point. 

Up 1-0, the Cougs moved to singles where they needed to perform well. Nakagawa was the first to finish her singles match, losing 6-4, 6-0, tying the match 1-1. Markov finished next, losing her game 6-3, 6-2. 

Now down 2-1 and needing a win to tie the score, Alvarez Sande and Abouelsaad finished their matches simultaneously. The two split their games, with Abouelsaad picking up a 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory. With Alvarez Sande’s 6-7, 2-6 loss, the Cougs were down 3-2 in another match this year. They ultimately would fall short, losing their third straight as Tse and Kumhom weren’t able to pick up wins. The final score was 5-2. 

With their victory, Utah moved to 10-3 on the year, giving WSU their first home loss of 2024. With the loss, the Cougs moved to 8-5, still looking for their first Pac-12 win.

Colorado March 17

In their final match of the two-game home stand, the Cougs hosted the 12-2 Colorado Buffaloes. The Buffaloes entered the match following a 1-4 loss in Seattle to the Huskies. 

Needing a win to regain confidence, WSU started the day off pretty slow, dropping two of the three doubles matches. The impressive duo of Nakagawa and Kumhom put together a 6-2 victory, but sadly the other duos fell short giving Colorado a 1-0 lead.

Moving to singles play, WSU hit the gas and quickly tied the game up with a 6-0, 6-2 win by Tse. This win was great for Tse as she had previously dropped her last three singles matches. The Buffaloes would eventually regain the lead as Carrie Hayes defeated WSU’s freshman Markov 6-2, 6-3. 

Now leading again, Colorado only needed two more wins to put the Cougs away but WSU wouldn’t allow it. The Cougs stormed back with Kumhom and Alvarez Sande posting impressive victories. Leading 3-2, Colorado was in panic mode but Nakagawa finished the work with her 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 win over Mila Stanojevic. 

Nakagawa’s victory gave the Cougs a 4-2 lead with Abouelsaad’s match ending as WSU had clinched their first Pac-12 win of the year. Earning a much-needed win, the Cougs record jumped up to 9-5 as the Buffaloes dropped to 12-3. 

Back in the winning column, WSU will return to action Mar. 22, traveling south for a match with California State University, Northridge. CSUN (6-1) are winners of three in a row and will be the first of five straight road matches for the Cougs before returning home April 12 for more Pac-12 action.

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About the Contributors
SETH STERN, Evergreen reporter/Copy Editor
Seth Stern is a Sophomore in Broadcast News from Auburn, Washington. He has always had an interest in sports and enjoys writing about them. He also works at Ferdinand’s Ice Cream Shoppe on the WSU campus. Seth began working at the Evergreen in spring 2023.
EMMA DECASA, Evergreen photographer
Emma Decasa is a photographer for the Daily Evergreen. Originally from Issaquah, Washington, she is a junior majoring in Advertising, with a minor in Sports Communication. Emma started working for the Daily Evergreen in the fall of 2023.