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Tennis hopes to bounce back from first defeat of season

Cougars will compete in three home meets in two days this weekend

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Tennis hopes to bounce back from first defeat of season

Sophomore Guzal Yusupova rallies against a player from Purdue on Feb. 3 at the Hollingbery Fieldhouse.

Sophomore Guzal Yusupova rallies against a player from Purdue on Feb. 3 at the Hollingbery Fieldhouse.

EZEKIEL NELSON | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

Sophomore Guzal Yusupova rallies against a player from Purdue on Feb. 3 at the Hollingbery Fieldhouse.

EZEKIEL NELSON | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

EZEKIEL NELSON | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

Sophomore Guzal Yusupova rallies against a player from Purdue on Feb. 3 at the Hollingbery Fieldhouse.

SAM HEIKELL, Evergreen reporter

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After suffering its first loss of the season, WSU tennis is preparing for three home matches over two days.

The Cougars (7-1) will take on the University of Minnesota on Friday, then faces Seattle University and Eastern Washington University on Saturday.

WSU began the season impressively, winning its first seven matches by a wide margin. The Cougars swept five of these 7-0, but saw their winning streak end against Kansas State University on Feb. 11.

Sophomore Melisa Ates said the loss helped the players shift their focus and realize they aren’t unbeatable.

“As a team, we got more excited after that loss,” Ates said. “It motivates us a lot.”

Head Coach Lisa Hart said the KSU match was the Cougars’ first real test to see how the team would respond in close games, and they made mistakes.

“When things got tight we made some uncharacteristic decisions,” Hart said. “I think the last couple of weeks have been a good learning time for us.”

Hart said the Cougars have put the loss behind them with the nearly two-week break they had to prepare for this weekend’s games.

“I think it was good last week to have some time off and rest a little bit,” Hart said. “This week I feel like every day we are starting to play better and they are starting to get excited about competition again.”

WSU will play a Minnesota (7-3) team that has lost its last two matches. Hart said the Cougars are prepared to face the Gophers, who may have a little extra motivation to walk out of Pullman with a victory.

“Minnesota is a really well-coached team and they have a lot of talented players,” Hart said, “so we definitely need to be ready to play on Friday.”

Seattle (2-6) and Eastern Washington (3-3) haven’t seen much success this season and are both looking to rebound from being swept by Gonzaga University.

With Pac-12 play approaching in March, the Cougars are trying to take advantage of their nonconference games while they can and continue to pile up wins, Hart said.

“Our conference is so tough, with so many ranked teams,” Hart said. “For us to go to the NCAA tournament like we want to, we need to really take care of business in these nonconference matches.”

WSU will take on Minnesota at noon Friday at Hollingbery Fieldhouse. The Cougars will continue play Saturday with a match against Seattle at 11 a.m. and Eastern at 4 p.m.

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Tennis hopes to bounce back from first defeat of season