Houston Closes Out Homestand vs. Mississippi State
Feb. 15, 2014
HOUSTON---Coming off their first loss of the season, the Cougars look to get back to their winning ways, as they host Mississippi State, Sunday at 10:00 a.m. CT out at the Houston Country Club.
There will be live stats available for Houston's dual match vs. Mississippi State. 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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About the Venue
The Houston Country Club is located 1 Potomac Dr, Houston TX 77057
A Look at the Series...
Houston vs. Mississippi State
Overall Record: 3-1
Home Record: 0-0
Away Record: 1-1
Neutral Site Record: 2-0
Longest Win Streak: 3 matches
Longest Losing Streak: 1 match
Current Streak: Lost 1
Record in Last 10 Meetings: 3-1
First Meeting: Oct. 8, 1981 in Baton Rouge, La. (W, 9-0)
Last Meeting: Feb. 3, 2013 at Mississippi State (L, 4-3)
The Series Match-by-Match
10/08/81 vs. Mississippi State, W, 9-0
02/27/87 vs. Mississippi State, W, 5-1
02/02/06 at No. 33 Mississippi State, W, 4-3
02/03/13 at Mississippi State, L, 4-3
Series Notes: This will be the fifth all-time meeting between the two teams and will mark the second straight season the two teams have played each other…Houston dropped its meeting with Mississippi State last year, by the slimmest of margins (4-3), after being down 3-0 early…Sunday will mark the first time the Cougars have ever hosted the Bulldogs…UH’s largest margin of victory was a 9-0 win over the Bulldogs on Oct. 8, 1981…Houston’s largest margin of defeat was its only loss to Mississippi State, in last year’s 4-3 loss on Feb. 3, 2013.
Breaking Down the Bulldogs
Mississippi State enters this one at 4-1 on the season and winners of three straight, earning its latest victory over Stephen F. Austin on Friday, 5-2. Seniors Roseline Dion and Alexandra Perper lead the Bulldogs, as they are a combined 9-0 in singles action so far this season. Mississippi State was ranked as high as No. 75 in the ITA poll this season, before falling out of the national rankings last week.
In the Rankings
Houston enters this one at No. 66 in the nation, while Mississippi State comes into the matchup unranked.
Last time out for the Cougars
It went all the way down to the wire, but in the end it was No. 66 Houston that had its heart broken Friday afternoon, as No. 70 Kansas managed to squeak out a 4-3 win out at the John E. Hoff Tennis Courts.
Houston (4-1) began the afternoon on the right foot, as Elena Kordolaimi and Despoina Vogasari handily defeated Maria Jose Cardona and Mario Belen Luduena, 8-5 to take the first doubles matchup of the day, but Kansas (6-0) was able to storm back to take the next two doubles matchups to claim the overall doubles point.
But the Jayhawks' slim 1-0 advantage wouldn't last for long, as Vogasari quickly tied things up, taking down Dylan Windom in straight sets (6-3, 6-2) from the No. 1 position to equalize things at 1-1.
Kordolaimi then backed up her No. 122 national ranking by blowing by Kansas' Cardona, 6-2, 6-3, to give the Cougars their first lead of the day at 2-1.
Moments later, senior Celia Fraser was able to take care of business on court six, turning in her most impressive performance of the season, winning 6-3, 6-1, to extend the Houston advantage to 3-1.
However, Kansas had one more run left in it, as it rallied to take victories on courts five, four, and three to steal the win away from the Cougars.
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
The Cougars are in the midst of a stretch that has the Cougars playing four ranked opponents over a six-match span. The Cougars have gone 1-1 so far vs. ranked teams this year (win vs. No. 63 North Texas and a loss vs. No. 70 Kansas)…to finish this stretch Houston will play at No. 41 Washington (Feb 23), and at in-state rival No. 17 Texas (Feb. 28).
Houston (4-1) is off to its best five-match start since the 2010 spring campaign, while a win on Sunday will give the Cougars their best six-match start since the 2009 season, where Houston eventually began that season 11-1.
They All Count the Same
Houston is a combined 7-1 from the No. 5 and No. 6 positions so far in singles play this year, compared to a 8-2 combined record from the No. 1 and No. 2 positions. Houston is .500 or better from every position in the lineup this season.
More Milestones for Sullivan
Houston's win on Feb 8 vs. No. 63 North Texas also marked Patrick Sullivan's 60th all-time victory as a head coach.
Brewing Something Special
Freshman Despoina Vogasari is currently raked No. 125 in the latest ITA poll, and by the looks of things, that ranking should only continue to climb higher, as she’s off to a 5-0 start this season in singles action, and has still yet to drop a single set, all from the No. 1 position. She also is 3-0 in doubles play this season.
Can't Run With Rupert
Freshman Tina Rupert has gotten off to a dominating 3-1 start this spring in singles action, as she dropped just her first match of the season on Friday vs. Kansas
The three newcomers in sophomore Maria Andrea Cardenas, freshman Despoina Vogasari, and freshman Tina Rupert are a combined 12-2 in singles action this season. Vogasari is 8-0 in overall action this season, as she's paired up with junior Elena Kordolaimi to go 3-0 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 60-22 in three seasons overall as a head coach...he currently owns a record of 17-12 in his second year at Houston…he is 0-1 all-time vs. Mississippi State while 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.
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Up Next for the Cougars
The Cougars will hit the road for the first time this season, as they’ll travel to the Pacific Northwest to take on Washington State, Friday at 10:00 a.m. CT, before finishing off their two-match road swing in Seattle, where they’ll play No. 41 Washington, Sunday at noon.