The ninth-seeded Oklahoma State women’s tennis team won in dominating fashion as they swept No.19 Arkansas, 4-0, on Sunday at the Greenwood Tennis Center to advance to the NCAA round of 16 where they’ll face No. 8 Georgia Tech on Friday in Athens, Ga.
Following a first-round sweep of UMKC which clinched the Cowgirls third NCAA Championship birth, the win on Sunday brought the Cowgirls home schedule to a perfect 12-0 and a 49-2 all-time record at the Greenwood Tennis Center.
“I think we have a lot of experience with finishing as runners-up last year,” head coach Chris Young said. This group is a veteran group with five girls back from last year, so they know what it takes. Nothing at this point is going to surprise them, so I think experience is going to play a factor and I think experience played a role in the match today.”
The Cowgirls had to battle early on in doubles, but ended up secure the doubles point as Katarina Stresnakova/Aliona Bolsova defeated Ana Oparenovic/Mia Jurasic 6-2 and Katarina Adamovic/Viktoriya Lushkova defeated Natsuho Arakawa/Shannon Hudson 7-5 while Vladica Babic/Carla Tur Mari were deadlocked at 5-5 against Giulia Pairone/Léolia Jeanjean when the Cowgirls secured the point. Tied at two apiece with the Arkansas duo of Ana Oparenovic and Mia Jurasic, Katarina Stresnakova and Aliona Bolsova won four-straight games to pick up the 6-2 victory.
“We’re meshing very well, because I am also very good friends with (Bolsova) off the court,” Stresnakova said. “I really love to play doubles with her because we both play aggressively. It’s worked well, both yesterday and today.”
“We knew the doubles point was going to be tough.” Young said. “Arkansas has been really good in doubles all year, and I think that’s been a big catalyst for their success as a program. We knew that the doubles point was going to be a difference maker, and obviously it carries so much momentum…You have two seniors there that fell down a break, 4-2, and then they finished strong. I thought they stuck with it. (Lushkova) was playing on another level in doubles, and I thought it was really special to watch.”
Katarina Adamovic and Viktoriya Lushkova bounced back from an early 4-2 deficit to win 7-5 win over Natsuho Arakawa and Shannon Hudson on court three. The win was the pair’s sixth-straight win, moving them to 16-2 together this spring.
Then, the Cowgirls went on a tear claiming three-straight set wins and losing on two sets out of the 12 that were played to advance the Cowgirls on to the next round. “It’s awesome (finishing my career at home with a win),” Lushkova said. “I’m really happy and I was really glad that I was able to win for the last time in Stillwater. It was a great day for us.”
In singles, OSU got wins from Lushkova, Stresnakova and junior Vladica Babic to put the Razorbacks away. Babic was the first to clinch one of the three single points for the Cowgirls as she defeated Giuila Pairone 6-1 and 6-2 to win her sixth straight victory. All of which came in straight sets. That also marked her 20th win of the season making her the sixth Cowgirl to do so this season.
“Vladi has been coming along all year,” Young said. “I told her that I thought her level today was a level that could win the NCAA individual championship. She has raised her level significantly. There is no one that is playing No. 4 singles the rest of this team tournament that she can’t compete with, and then I think she can do well moving on to the individual tournament. I thought the Arkansas girl at four was a really strong player, so for us to get that point really quickly was a sign that we’re continuing to pick up momentum.”
Stresnakova performed great as well defeating Mia Jurasic at No.5 6-1 and 6-3. That brings the sophomore to 23-5 so far on the season. And in a perfect end to the her time at the Greenwood Tennis Center, Lushkova would be the deciding point that claimed the Cowgirls’ 16th sweep of the season as she beat No. 45, Shannon Hudson, 6-3 and 6-3.
The Cowgirls battle Georgia Tech looking to advance to their second-straight trip to the NCAA semi-final round.
“It’s going to be a great battle with them,” Young said. “We played against them three years ago when a lot of these girls who are seniors now were sophomores. We have a lot of girls that have had matchups with them this fall too. Georgia Tech is having an unbelievable season. They won the ACC, they’re well-coached and playing an hour from home, kind of like we did last year. It will be a good test for us.”