Playing without two of their top singles players the Oklahoma State Cowgirls sailed through the first round match in the NCAA and now will take on Arkansas for a trip to Athens, Ga., and the NCAA "Sweet 16".
STILLWATER -- Playing without two of their top players the Oklahoma State Cowgirls throttled UMKC 4-0 to move into Sunday's second round of the NCAA Tennis Tournament with the opportunity to clinch a spot in the "Sweet 16" for the second year in a row on their home courts. The Cowgirls, seeded 9th, will face 19th seed Arkansas at 1 p.m. on Sunday on the courts of the Michael and Anne Greenwood Tennis Center. Arkansas put away Wichita State 4-2 in the other 1st ropund match on Saturday.
When the Cowgirls face the Hogs they will have Katarina Adamovic, their usual #2 singles player in the line-up and the regular doubles partner of #1 singles player and fellow senior Viktoriya Lushkova. They will also have their usual #4 singles player Vladica Babic back as well. Cowgirls head coach and Oklahoma State director of tennis Chris Young said both players could have played in the 1st round match, but both have slight ailments and the decision was made after warm-ups to rest the pair.
The win over UMKC was the Cowgirls 14th shutout win of the season and they opened up taking the doubles point when Vladica Babic, who did play doubles, teamed with Carla Tur Mari to defeat Melinda Johnson and Yana Grechkin 6-1 at the #1 doubles. Katarina Streshnakova and Aliona Bolsova clinched the doubles point beating Mariam Kurasbediani and Thanushree Vale 6-0.
Bolsova, moving up to #2 singles, had little trouble with Melinda Johnson on court two as she shut out the Kangaroo, 6-0, 6-0, to put the Cowgirls up, 2-0, and stretch her win streak to seven. The victory was the freshman’s 29th of the season which ties her with Maria Alvarez (2015) for the third-most by a Cowgirl in the Big 12 era. Bolsova has a very bright future and is a likely #1 singles performer for next season.
Speaking of #1 singles, senior Viktoriya Lushkova set a Big 12 era program record for singles wins with her 95th career and 22nd of this season. Lushkova defeated Aliona Ladustska 6-1, 6-1 to put the Cowgirls up 3-0.
Katarina Stresnakova remained perfect on the season, moving to 13-0 on the dual campaign with a 6-3, 6-1 drubbing of Mariam Kurasbediani on court three to seal the match.
“What happened today was what you expect to see this time of year,” Young said after the match. “It’s tournament time, and it’s time for our girls to step up. I told the girls in the locker room that what we showed today was enough. It’s enough for the rest of the tournament, in my opinion. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing. I thought that UMKC battled really well. I’m proud of their girls for the season they had. It was about our girls executing.” The Cowgirls are 23-5 and have not lost to a team ranked outside the top 10.
“The great thing today was that you got to see a lot of girls get some matches in the NCAA Tournament, which they might not have gotten to otherwise. It’s nice to get those girls some action.”
A win over Arkansas on Sunday and it is back to the NCAA Championships, this year in Athens, Georgia. By the way, it appears that the folks at Pei Wei and P.F. Chang saw our story on the Cowgirls eating at their restaurants for dinner in Tulsa last year each night during their run in the NCAA Tournament to the finals and they reached out to offer the team any help they might need down in Athens as they wrote that they hoped they could be part of the winning team this year.