Cougar tennis struggles in singles matches

From staff reports

It was a slow start for Washington State tennis at the Pac-12 Championships in Ojai, Calif., but the Cougars were able to rally and pick-up a couple of wins for the Crimson and Gray.

“I am proud of our team,” Head Coach Lisa Hart said. “It is difficult to go from team matches to an individual tournament but I thought our players did a good job after Thursday regrouping and finding ways to win.”

In doubles play, the Cougar duo of senior Olga Musilovich and sophomore Maria Biryukova defeated Colorado’s Julyette Steur and Ashley Tiefel 8-7, 7-3 to advance to the quarterfinals. There they fell to the top-ranked team of Stanford’s Kristie Ahn and Carol Zhao, falling 8-5.

The Cougar’s top doubles team of junior Elizaveta Luzina and sophomore Lize Leenknecht dropped their opening match to Kaitlyn Christian and Giuliana Olmos of USC, 8-2. The pair rallied in the back draw, defeating Utah’s Callie Craig and Sarah Pham, 8-1. The win was the 26th of the season for the duo, setting the school record for single-season victories.

“As a team one year ago we made a commitment to doubles and getting better in that area,” Hart said. “Our doubles is the best they have ever been and Lize and Liza setting the record is a great reflection of their commitment to our team goals.”

In the Invitational Draw, WSU junior Charlotte Koning and sophomore Dajana Ognjenovic fell to Arizona State’s Alexandra Osborne and Ebony Panoho, 8-1.

After dropping every singles match in the first round of championship play, WSU won four of five matches in singles back draw action.

Biryukova was able to triumph over Arizona State’s Kassidy Jump with a 6-2, 6-0 win. Musilovich posted a 6-3, 4-6, 1-0 (10-5) win over California’s Kelly Chui. Leenknecht recorded a straight-set win over Colorado’s Carla Manzi Tenorio, 7-5, 6-0, Ognjenovic needed three sets before finally defeating Oregon’s Kadie Hueffner, 6-2, 3-6, 1-0 (10-6). Luzina rallied from down four points in the third-set tiebreaker but could not get the win against Arizona’s Lacey Smith, who was victorious with a 7-6, 2-6, 1-0 (10-8) win. Luzina finishes her season with a team-leading 29 victories, fourth on WSU’s single-season list.

“I am so proud of (Luzina) and her commitment to improvement,” Hart said. “She has made huge jumps every season and I expect next year will be her best season yet.  She has 79 career victories and is on track to break the record for most career wins.”

The Cougars now wait for a chance to continue their season with NCAA Championship selections tomorrow.

“I am so proud to coach this team,” Hart said. “Whether we make NCAAs or not we accomplished a lot this season and overcame many obstacles.  I think this year more than any other our players demonstrated grit, determination and have set a high standard for teams that follow.”