MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University Director of Athletics Oliver Luck has announced the 2012-13 women’s tennis schedule for its inaugural Big 12 season.
“The West Virginia University women’s tennis program is beginning a new era as it commences competition in the Big 12 Conference,” says Luck. “Coach (Tina) Samara and her staff have put together a schedule that allows our student-athletes to compete in some of the nation’s finer tournaments during the fall season, as well as the chance to compete against high-caliber opponents throughout the spring season.”
The schedule, which is comprised of five fall tournaments and 10 home matches during the spring season, includes six matches against teams that qualified for the 2012 NCAA Championship and 10 against teams that finished in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Top 75.
In addition, the Mountaineers will square off against Division II California (Pa.), which completed its season ranked No. 8 by the ITA and was among the final eight teams standing in its NCAA Championship bracket.
“This is probably the strongest schedule we have ever had at West Virginia,” says Samara. “I believe it can compete with other schools for being the strongest schedule in the country. By entering into the Big 12, it bumps our schedule strength up pretty significantly because five of those teams qualified for the NCAA Championship last season.”
The Mountaineers’ season will kick off just as it did last season, as they travel to Wilmington, N.C., for the UNC-Wilmington Collegiate Invitational on Sept. 7-9.
The fall slate is highlighted by trips to Austin, Texas, and Pacific Palisades, Calif., for the Texas Fall Invitational and the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships, along with return trips to the Wake Forest Invitational and the ITA Regionals held in Blacksburg, Va.
“We have scheduled some really good tournaments for the fall,” says Samara. “Some of these tournaments are close in regards to location, but yet they present the type of competition that we are looking for. We will also get a lot of good exposure in the Texas Fall Invitational. We have a huge challenge ahead of us, but we a have a lot of good kids on board. They are not afraid. They are excited about the opportunity.”
On Jan. 19, the Mountaineers will welcome Ohio State to Morgantown for its first match of the spring season, and one week later, WVU will play host to rival Marshall.
The Mountaineers will begin a stretch of five-consecutive road matches on Feb. 2 with a match against Syracuse and cap the stretch with a match against Penn State on Feb. 23. Matches on the road include a first-ever match against Buffalo and tilts against William & Mary and Virginia Commonwealth.
On March 2, WVU will play host to Virginia Tech in a match that will be played at the Charleston Racquet Club in Charleston, W.Va.
“Charleston is a huge tennis community, and the Charleston Racquet Club is super supportive of us,” Samara says. “We are hoping to have a large crowd there for the match because the West Virginia high school state tennis tournament will be going on that weekend. We are looking forward to this opportunity because it will give us a chance to gain more exposure, while also showcasing our program to the people in that part of the state.”
After squaring off against the Hokies in the neutral site contest, the Mountaineers will open a stretch of five-consecutive home matches, including its first Big 12 contest in program history when they take on TCU on March 15. Two days later, WVU will take on Baylor, which finished the season ranked No. 13.
“The transition to the Big 12 is very exciting for us, but the first Big 12 match against TCU is just another match that we need to go out and win,” Samara says. “We need to embrace the competition that we will be taking on because these are all very established programs. We have to take something away from each experience.”
On March 22, the Mountaineers make their first trip to the Longhorn State, as they take on Texas Tech, and then, two days later will take on Texas, which finished the season ranked No. 10.
Following home dates against Oklahoma State on April 5 and April 7, WVU will close out its regular season with road matches against Iowa State, Kansas and Kansas State.2012-13 Schedule