No. 66 Houston to Host Kansas on Friday
Feb. 13, 2014
HOUSTON---After receiving their highest ranking since the 2002 season earlier this week, the No. 66 Houston Cougars return to action Friday, as they'll take on No. 70 Kansas at 11:00 a.m. CT, in what will be the first matchup between two ranked teams at the John E. Hoff Tennis Courts since 2006.
There will be live stats available for Houston's dual match vs. No. 70 Kansas. To access live stats for the match visit www.UHCougars.com, click the women's tennis schedule page then click the "Live Stats" link.
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The John E. Hoff Tennis Courts are located on the campus of the University of Houston and sit on the corner of Elgin and Scott Street. The courts are located between Cougar Field and the Athletics/Alumni Center.
A Look at the Series...
Houston vs. Kansas
Overall Record: 2-3
Home Record: 0-1
Away Record: 2-1
Neutral Site Record: 0-1
Longest Win Streak: 2 matches
Longest Losing Streak: 3 matches
Current Streak: Lost 3
Record in Last 10 Meetings: 2-3
First Meeting: March 13, 1985 in Irvine, Calif. (W, 7-2)
Last Meeting: March 17, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nev. (L, 3-4)
The Series Match-by-Match
03/13/85 vs. Kansas, W, 7-2
03/25/90 vs. Kansas, W, 7-2
03/22/80 No. 48 Kansas, L, 1-6
03/05/11 Kansas, L, 3-4
03/17/12 vs. Kansas, L, 3-4
Series Notes: This will be the sixth all-time meeting between the two teams and will be the first time the programs have met since the 2012 spring season...Houston has dropped three straight to Kansas going back to March 22, 1980...the Cougars are 0-1 all-time vs. the Jayhawks when they're ranked, with the lone ranked meeting coming on March 22, 1980 vs. No. 48 Kansas (L, 6-1)...Neither team has shut the other out, while the last two meetings have been decided by one point each...UH's largest margin of victory was a 7-2 win vs. Kansas (2x, 03/15/90 and 03/13/85)...Houston's largest margin of defeat was a 6-1 loss on March. 22, 1980...the two teams know each other well and Friday's playing surface well, as both competed in the Cougar Classic back in November out at the John E. Hoff Tennis Courts.
Breaking Down the Jayhawks
Kansas (5-0) will arguably be Houston's toughest test yet, as it enters the match ranked No. 70 in the nation after starting the season a perfect 5-0, including defeating then No. 36 Nebraska (4-3) in its season opener. Senior Claire Dreyer leads the Jayhawks with a team-best winning percentage of .875 (7-1) in singles play. Senior Paulina Los also boasts a 7-2 mark in singles action.
In the Rankings
Kansas enters this one ranked No. 70 in the country, while Houston is ranked No. 66 in the latest ITA poll.
Something Has to Give
Both teams enter this matchup a combined 9-0 on the season.
Houston vs. Ranked Opponents
Houston will be going up against its second straight ranked opponent after defeating No. 63 North Texas last Saturday...UH has dropped four of their last five ranked matchups overall and is 0-1 vs. ranked Jayhawk squads.
Climbing Toward the Top
Houston is back in the national rankings, as it was placed at No. 66 in the nation in this week's ITA poll. The ranking is UH's highest since 2002, and it's just four spots off the best placement in school history (ranked No. 62 on Feb. 20, 2002)...the No. 66 ranking is also third highest in The American, just behind No. 31 Memphis and No. 63 Louisville.
Cougar Individuals on the National Stage
In addition to the team ranking, junior Elena Kordolaimi and freshman Despoina Vogasari have garnered national attention in the latest polls as well, as Kordolaimi is ranked 122nd nationally in singles play, while Vogasari is just three spots behind at 125th...The tandem is a combined 6-0 in singles action so far this season, as neither has even dropped a set...It's the first time Houston has had an individual nationally ranked since 2002, while it's also the first time UH has had two or more players ranked simultaneously since 1985.
A Tough Road Ahead
Houston (4-0) is off to its best four-match start since the 2007 spring campaign, where it eventually began 5-0...the 4-0 start is also the team's longest home win streak since winning five straight home matches during the 2012 spring campaign...it is also the program's longest overall win streak since picking up five consecutive wins during that same 2012 spring season...it's the longest win streak during the Sullivan era.
More Milestones for Sullivan
Houston's win last Saturday vs. No. 63 North Texas also marked Patrick Sullivan's 60th all-time victory as a head coach.
Last time out for the Cougars
The Cougars made a strong statement last Saturday afternoon out at the John E. Hoff Tennis Courts, as they made easy work of No. 63 North Texas, defeating the Mean Green, 5-0, clinching Houston's best four-game start since the 2007 spring campaign.
Before today, the Cougars (4-0) hadn't defeated a ranked opponent in four consecutive tries, with its last win vs. a ranked school coming in last year's spring season opener vs. then No. 59 Stephen F. Austin.
All that can be thrown out the window now, as it was Houston who looked like the nationally ranked team on Saturday afternoon, while the Cougars not only clinched their second shutout victory of the season, but also did so without dropping a single set.
Houston jumped in front early, as Charlotte Phillips and Tina Rupert earned a dominating 6-1 win on court three, while the combo of Rocio Martin Fernandez and Maria Andrea Cardenas took their matchup on court one (6-4) to clinch the doubles point for the Cougars.
With Houston already off to a 1-0 advantage, freshman Despoina Vogasari took care of business at the No. 1 position, defeating North Texas' Anastasiya Shestakov in straight sets 6-2, 6-2, giving the Cougars a 2-0 overall lead.
Elena Kordolaimi quickly followed suit, as she rolled past Agustina Valenzuela, also by the final of 6-2, 6-2, to put Houston on the verge of clinching the match.
Fittingly, Phillips represented the clinching point for Houston, as she downed Ana Sofia Cordero in consecutive sets (6-0, 6-4) to give the Cougars the final point they needed to secure the victory, after helping Houston record its first point of the day in doubles action.
Cardenas improved to a perfect 4-0 in singles action, as she brought in the fifth and final point for Houston, after defeating Kamilla Galieva 6-0, 6-4.
Neither Tina Rupert nor Martin were able to finish their matchups, but both were leading after the contest was called early.
Can't Run With Rupert
Freshman Tina Rupert has gotten off to a dominating 3-0 start this spring in singles action, as she has still yet to drop a set this season. In fact, she's lost just five games thus far.
The three newcomers in sophomore Maria Andrea Cardenas, freshman Despoina Vogasari, and freshman Tina Rupert are a combined 11-0 in singles action this season, dropping just one set between the three of them. Vogasari is 6-0 in overall action this season, as she's paired up with junior Elena Kordolaimi to go 2-0 in doubles matches thus far.
Cougars Haul in Second Consecutive Ranked Signing Class
The University of Houston women's tennis 2014 early signing class has been ranked as the 24th best in the nation according to TennisRecruiting.net, as released by the website on Feb. 3.
The class consisting Angela Lorenzo (Valladolid, Spain), Carolina Costamagna (Cordoba, Argentina), and Mina Markovic (Belgrade, Serbia) was named the second best in the American Athletic Conference, right behind Louisville's 16th ranked class. Houston is also one of four Texas schools to boast a top-25 recruiting class this period.
"We are very, very high on this class and are glad the experts agree," said head coach Patrick Sullivan. "I believe their results on the court are going to be even better than this ranking and I think the group is every bit as strong as last year's top-10 class."
"Our staff has logged a lot of airline miles to several different continents and just generally put in a lot of time and effort into making sure that we get the right girls for our program. We love the student-athletes we have on campus right now and the strong positive team culture they have committed to, so the job isn't quite as simple as the primary and obvious need to recruit very talented tennis players. Beyond that, we need girls that will continue to uphold our team core values and who will help us both to win championships and to continue to break academic records. That's the vision we recruited this 2014 class with and we think they are up to the task. We're very proud of this group and excited to get them to campus in August."
Angela Lorenzo - Valladolid, Spain
Lorenzo was ranked as high as No. 41 in the Spanish Women's Open rankings and is one of the top juniors in her country, having reached the junior national semifinals in the U-14 and U-16 divisions and most recently winning the U-18 National title. She has consistently been the top junior in her region of Castile and León, having won 14 regional championships there in her junior career.
Carolina Costamagna - Cordoba, Argentina
Costamagna is one of the top junior players in South America and has been ranked as high as No. 697 in the WTA professional rankings. She has been a finalist in International Tennis Federation (ITF) junior tournaments in five different countries in both singles and doubles, most recently at the Copa Canteril in Punta Del Este, Uruguay, in which she was a doubles finalist and cruised through the singles final 6-2, 6-0.
Mina Markovic - Belgrade, Serbia
Markovic is one of the top junior players in the world, as she was ranked as high as 128th in the ITF rankings, the highest junior ranking ever for a University of Houston signee. She won her first ITF junior tournament at the age of 15 in her hometown of Belgrade, Serbia. In addition, she has 63 international junior combined wins (singles & doubles) in 16 different countries and was most recently the champion of the ITF Grade 4 Montenegro Open this past May.
A Flair For the Dramatics
Sophomore Rocio Martin Fernandez clinched Houston's 4-3 dual match victory over New Mexico on Jan. 26, after she managed to rally to win her flight, 7-5, 4-6, 10-8 from the No. 6 position. Martin Fernandez trailed 5-1 in the final tiebreak set before taking nine of the final 12 rallies, including the last two, to secure the comeback victory, marking her first singles win of the season.
Breaking Down the 2014 Cougars
Second year head coach Patrick Sullivan and the Cougars return six letterwinners from last season's squad the finished 13-11 overall and eighth in the final year of Conference USA with a 1-1 record.
Senior Celia Fraser returns as one of the captains of the group, while junior Elena Korolaimi looks to improve on sophomore campaign that saw her earn All-Conference USA second team honors in her first season at Houston, after posting a 13-10 record at the No. 1 position.
The three newcomers in freshmen Despoina Vogasari, Tina Rupert, and sophomore Maria Andrea Cardenas represent what could become Houston's strongest signing class ever. The class was ranked tops among mid-majors and sixth best nationally.
Houston enters the season looking to qualify for the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998 and for the third time in school history.
Not one player on the roster is from the United States. The roster sports four players from England, two from Greece, and one from Spain, Slovenia, and Venezuela.
A New Beginning
After spending 17 seasons as a part of Conference USA, the Cougars make the switch to the newly formed American Athletic Conference. The new league marks the program's third conference membership in 35 years of existence.
About Patrick Sullivan
Sullivan enters his second season at Houston with an overall coaching record of 60-21 in three seasons overall as a head coach...he currently owns a record of 17-11 in his second year at Houston.
Home Sweet Home
The Cougars will play school-record 16 home matches in 2014, including seven consecutive to begin the year.
Hit Me With Your Best Shot
The 2014 schedule will undoubtedly be one of the more rigorous slates in program history, as the Cougars will play eight nationally ranked opponents in No. 60 North Texas (Feb. 8), at No. 45 Washington (Feb. 23), at No. 17 Texas (Feb. 28), No. 28 Tulsa (March 1), at No. 58 Utah (March 12), at No. 52 SMU (March 22), at No. 68 Harvard (March 30), and at No. 40 William and Mary (April 11). The Cougars will also go up against four schools that qualified for the NCAA Tournament a year ago in Texas, Tulsa, North Texas, and William and Mary.
Hear it From Them
Be sure to visit www.UHCougars.com and click on the women's tennis page to watch the 2014 women's tennis season preview video featuring head coach Patrick Sullivan, senior Celia Fraser, and junior Charlotte Phillips.
Up Next for the Cougars
The Cougars will conclude their season-long six-match homestand with Mississippi State on Sunday at 10:00 a.m. out at the Houston Country Club.