Katarina Adamovic from Serbia, Carla Tur Mari all the way from Spain, and Viktoriya Lushkova from the Ukraine all came a long way to play tennis at Oklahoma State and none could have guessed just how record setting, program building, and satisfying their journey together would be. For the third-straight season, the Oklahoma State women’s tennis team will host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament, it was announced on Tuesday afternoon during the NCAA produced selection show that the team, supporters, athletic department officials, and the media watched together in the Varsity Room in the Athletic Center at Gallagher-Iba. The Cowgirls are making their sixth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance, which is the second-longest streak in program history.
A couple of weeks ago when the Cowgirls hosted Bedlam and squashed the Sooners 4-0 before the final regular season home match Lushkova, a soon to be three-time All-American and the player that has become the face of the program, was asked about her career and the last appearance at the Greenwood Tennis Center.
"I really don't want to go there yet," she said. "I would like to think we will host in the NCAA and maybe I can think about then. It will be tough to think about as Lushkova has become very attached to Stillwater, college-town life, and her new country in the United States.
Chris Young isn't shy about proclaiming Lushkova, Adamovic, and Tur Mari as the reasons for the Cowgirls program success from NCAA Tournament appearances to the momentum of the Greenwood Tennis Center to the finish last season as the NCAA runner-up.
"They know it can be done," Young said of advancing to the very edge of being a national champion.
As for the particulars, the Cowgirls, ranked 9th are the 9th seed and hosting a very geographic group of teams in Stillwater. OSU will match up with UMKC in the first round of the tournament on Saturday, May 13 at the Greenwood Tennis Center. Arkansas and Wichita State will also travel to Stillwater for the regional, and will play that Saturday as well. The winners of the first two matches will advance to face each other on Sunday, May 14th.
“We aim to play for championships around here, and we’ve won a lot of matches over the course of the last three seasons,” head coach Chris Young said. “These girls who are seniors have won a lot of matches and a lot of championships. Obviously, they have the taste of coming up just a little bit short last year in the NCAA Tournament, and even more recently with a tough loss in the Big 12 finals. It’s definitely motivation to finish off this year on a better note, so we’re just excited to see our draw and get back to work.
“We’re very familiar with these teams,” Young added as he is the former coach at Wichita State. “I figured this would be the way that it was with the rankings of those specific schools. Arkansas is probably getting tired of coming here. They have been here the last couple of years. This is probably the best team they’ve had in five or six years, so they’re going to come here hungry and ready to go. Wichita State continues to have a good program there. UMKC, their men and women qualified, so they’re going to be excited to come here."
Playing at home is a tremendous advantage for Oklahoma State as the Cowgirls have one of the most enthusiastic and rowdiest crowds in college tennis.
“There is going to be a lot of excitement for this regional, and there are going to be a lot of fans. That’s what you want when you put something like this on. Not only will our fans show up, but these other schools will as well and that’s great for the kids.”
The Cowgirls are 22-5 heading into the NCAA Tournament, coming off their fourth appearance in the Big 12 Championship match in the last five years last weekend. OSU is a perfect 10-0 at home so far this season, and boast the longest active home win streak in Power Five women’s tennis with 32-straight wins.
All-Session tickets for the event go on sale Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. by phone at 877-255-4678 or the OSU Athletics ticket office only. The tickets are $15 for all sessions. Individual day tickets will be available one hour prior to the first match of each day at the Greenwood Tennis Center.
As for Lushkova and whether she would talk about this upcoming NCAA weekend as being the last one for here in Stillwater as a Cowgirl senior, she did comment and she is thinking about it.
"I'm really going to enjoy it," she said with a huge smile. "I hope I can contribute more to Oklahoma State tennis and make it even bigger at home. So, I'm excited for this last one."
Actually last two, first and second rounds and then on to Georgia and the NCAA Championships.