MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Riding the momentum of a three-match win streak, the West Virginia University women’s tennis team opens Big 12 Conference play this weekend, as it hosts No. 27 TCU on Friday, at 1 p.m., and No. 36 Baylor on Sunday, at 11 a.m., at the Ridgeview Racquet Club.
“This is an exciting moment for our program, as we usher in a new era,” says coach Tina Samara. “The Big 12 Conference is one of the premier tennis conferences in the country, so we will need to make sure that we are playing and competing to the best of our abilities for the rest of the season.”
The Horned Frogs (9-1) feature three singles players ranked in the ITA top 125 (No. 65 Stefanie Tan, No. 79 Olivia Smith and No. 104 Simona Parajova) and one doubles combo ranked in the ITA top 80 (No. 42 Millie Nichols/Smith).
The Bears (5-10) also feature three ranked singles players (No. 12 Ema Burgic, No. 121 Victoria Kisialeva and No. 124 Megan Horter), and, they have two doubles combos (No. 25 Burgic/Kisialeva and No. 72 Jordaan Sanford/Burgic) that are ranked.
“Both of these teams are very talented squads, as you can tell by the number of ranked players that they feature,” Samara says. “Despite what their record shows, Baylor is a solid team that has scheduled very aggressively in the first half of the year, as 13 of their 15 matches have come against opponents ranked in the top 47 of the ITA’s rankings. Our match against TCU will be equally as challenging, as they feature a lineup that has great depth and seasoning.”
The Mountaineers began their three-match win streak on March 3, when they defeated Marquette, 5-2. They then quickly followed that up this past weekend with a 7-0 drubbing of California (Pa.) on Friday and a 6-1 defeat of Rutgers on Saturday.
Friday’s shutout victory over the Vulcans was WVU’s first since March 13, 2011, when they blanked Providence. Furthermore, WVU’s victory over the Scarlet Knights was its first since 2007.
“Even though we have won three straight, we haven’t done it while playing our best tennis” Samara said. “That can be a good sign that we are winning despite not playing our best, but we can’t expect that to give us a chance to win against these teams. We will need to be ready to play from the first serve of the doubles matches in order to give ourselves an opportunity to compete. We have to bring intensity and focus from the start of the match.”
Heading into the weekend, Ikttesh Chahal
and Hailey Barrett
are tied for the team lead in singles victories, with six, while doubles partners Audrey Wooland
and Emily Mathis
lead the team in doubles wins with seven. Mathis also leads the team in combined victories, with 12.
Along with being the first Big 12 Conference matches in program history, this weekend’s matchups against TCU and Baylor will also be the first time the teams have met in program history.
A full recap of each dual match will be available on WVUsports.com following the completion of competition.