Cougar tennis in crunch time

The No. 47 ranked Washington State women’s tennis team is back in action today as No. 70 ranked Denver Pioneers will be in town for a 10 a.m. showdown in Pullman.

The Cougars are currently 16-8 and 2-5 in the Pac-12 following a convincing win over the Washington Huskies.

“This team can beat anybody on the right day,” WSU Head Coach Lisa Hart said.

Denver’s squad had a big weekend on the road, posting three consecutive 7-0 wins against South Dakota, IUPUI and South Dakota State. The Pioneers won 9-of-9 doubles and singles matches against all three teams and claimed every singles victory of the weekend in straight sets.

The next few matches for WSU will be the final opportunities for the team to potentially be selected for postseason play.

“Denver is a strong team and we definitely need to be ready to play,” Hart said “Our players want to be selected for the NCAA Championships next month and without a team conference tournament it makes each dual match so much more important.”

Denver freshman Maureen Slattery was recently named Summit League Player of the Week. Slattery claimed her second career award after posting 3-0 records in both singles and doubles play at the weekend’s Summit League cluster in Fort Wayne. Slattery did not lose a game in her singles or doubles matches against IUPUI.

Hart, a former collegiate tennis player at Nebraska, uses her experience as a player to relate to her team mentally as the season enters crunch time.

“Having competed and been in the same competitive situations as our athletes it is easier to relate to what they are going through physically and mentally,” Hart said. “It is always easier to handle situations when you have had experience handling similar or the same situations so I think my past playing and coaching experience definitely helps me on a daily basis.”

Throughout the season Hart has watched her players continue to enhance their play, which she describes as one of the true joys of being a coach at WSU.

“I love watching my players improve and develop,” Hart said. “Seeing the short-term and long-term progress of my athletes is definitely an inspiration to me.  There is nothing more rewarding than watching individuals come together and compete as a team for a common goal.”