There is no doubt about the senior trio of Viktoriya Lushkova, Katarina Adamovic, and Carla Tur Mari being the heart and soul of the Cowgirls Tennis team as they shoot for a national championship, but a freshman is playing her way into a starring role as the head to Georgia.
Oklahoma State Cowgirls tennis coach and Oklahoma State director of tennis Chris Young says he wouldn't have any problem if one of the Cowgirls matches later this week and next at the NCAA Tennis Championships in Georgia came down to a freshman on the court. One of the Cowgirls seniors, Katarina Adamovic said the same thing, she'd be confident in either Aliona Bolsova or Lena Ruppert. The two freshmen share the same apartment and for the most part, have shared the same experiences. Ruppert is from Germany and Bolsova, who just this week earned the ITA Central Rookie of the Year award, kind of a freshman of the year award in women's collegiate tennis.
The 5-8 freshman from Palafrugell, Spain deserves it. Bolsova is ranked 3rd in the nation in the freshman/newcomer rankings. In Saturday's first round of the NCAA against UMKC, Bolsova moved up from number three singles to the number two spot and she dumped the Kangaroos Melinda Johnson 6-0, 6-0. Teaming with Katarina Stresnakova at number two doubles, they swept both match-ups over the weekend against UMKC and Arkansas. Bolsova's match with Leolia Jeanjean of Arkansas was unfinished as Bolsova led 7-5, 5-3 when teammate Viktoriya Lushkova clinched the second round win over Arkansas.
"It is crazy, the hardest thing for me definitely was the noise," said the young, but worldly Bolsova, who said she lived for awhile in high school on her own outside of Miami. "I'm used to playing alone, quiet, focusing on myself. Now there are five more girls and crowds. You are always hearing someone cheer. There is always someone sheering because we play the points at different times. There is noise and people applaud at different times so you have to be really focused on your match. You have to be aware of what your teammates are doing but still stay into your match and that is kind of hard. I think that is the thing I had the most problem with."
There was food and even the living arrangements. Bolsova said she had lived in a dorm type room with a bunkmate, but not a roommate in an apartment sharing a kitchen and a living area, implying that was more personal than just two people sleeping in a dorm room. There were decisions that had to be made together, furniture, trips to the grocery store and what is in the fridge and the pantry. What were they going to watch on television? She said that she and Ruppert, who is from Weiden, Germany have got along well.
Back to the team's current number one player in Lushkova, who has really been the face of the program almost since she arrived and was also honored by the ITA as the ITA Central Senior Player of the Year, Bolsova is likely the next number one player and also the possible face of the program for the future. Bolsova is very talented and she is the daughter of two former professional track and field athletes. She has been ranked as high at 4th in the world junior rankings and she has ranking with the WTA in both singles (#459) and doubles (#377). She is on a hot streak and playing really well.
"Yes, I am," Bolsova agreed about her playing better. "I got much better since the fall season. I learned how to play on a team here in college. I think I am confident and ready to go win the national title."
If the Cowgirls get that done starting with Georgia Tech on Friday, then Bolsova will play a major role.