No. 64 Houston Readies for Season's First Road Test

    #64 Houston (5-1) at #59 Washington State (10-1)

    When Friday, February 21, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. CT
    Where Slimmelink Tennis Courts • Pullman, Wash.
    Match Coverage Live Stats | Twitter Coverage
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    Series History • Houston leads all-time series 1-0
    • UH has never played at Washington State
    • UH won the only meeting, 5-4 (03/16/93)
    About Houston     Top Performers
    • #125 Despoina Vogasari (10-3)
    • #122 Elena Kordolaimi (8-2)
    Maria Andrea Cardenas (10-5)
    ITA Ranking:#64
    Road Record: 0-0
    Current Streak: Won 1
    Last Five Matches: 4-1
    Houston Preview | Season Stats
    About Washington State Top Performers
    • Elizaveta Luzina (21-3)
    • Maria Biryukova (16-4)
    • Dajana Oganjenovic (17-5)
    ITA Ranking:#59
    Home Record: 7-0
    Current Streak: Won 8
    Last Five Matches: 5-0
    Washington State Preview | Season Stats
    Up Next For Houston Feb. 23 at No. 40 Washington
    Feb. 28 at No. 18 Texas
    March 1 vs. No. 23 Tulsa
    March 5 vs. Temple
    March 8 vs. Connecticut

    Feb. 20, 2014

    HOUSTON---After moving up two spots to No. 64 in the latest ITA rankings, the Cougars look to build on their impressive start to the season, with their first road test of the year coming at No. 59 Washington State, Friday at noon CT.

    Live Coverage
    There will be live stats available for Houston's dual match at Washington State. To access live stats for the match visit www.wsucougars.com, click the women's tennis schedule page then click the "Live Stats" link.

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    A Look at the Series...

    Houston vs. Washington State
    Overall Record: 1-0

    Home Record: 1-0

    Away Record: 0-0

    Neutral Site Record: 0-0

    Longest Win Streak: 1 match

    Longest Losing Streak: N/A 

    Current Streak: Won 1

    Record in Last 10 Meetings: 1-0

    First Meeting: March 16, 1993 in Houston, Texas (W, 5-4)

    Last Meeting: March 16, 1993 in Houston, Texas (W, 5-4)

    The Series Match-by-Match
    03/16/93 Washington State, W, 5-4

    Series Notes: This will be just the second all-time meeting between the two programs, and the first since the 1993 season...Houston is 1-0 all-time vs. Washington State, with that lone meeting coming at home...the Cougars have never played at Washington State.

    Breaking Down Washington State
    Washington State enters this one at 10-1 on the season and winners of eight straight, as it jumped up to No. 59 in the latest ITA poll this week. The Cougars are led by junior Elizaveta Luzina, who currently is the reigning Pac-12 Player of the Week, after going 2-0 in singles play last week, while also defeating the nation's 41st-ranked player in Sophie Watts. Luzina is 21-3 overall this year, while going 10-1 from the No. 1 position this season. In addition to winning eight straight, Washington is coming off impressive wins over No. 66 Fresno State and No. 65 San Diego last week. The Cougars are 7-0 at home this season.

    In the Rankings
    Houston enters this one at No. 64 in the nation, while Washington State is placed at 59th.

    Inside the Matchup
    More than likely, this match will feature two of the best players in the country at the No. 1 positions on Friday, in Houston freshman Despoina Vogasari (No. 125) and Washington State junior Elizaveta Luzina (unranked).

    Vogasari enters this one as the reigning American Athletic Conference Player of the Week, keeping her perfect 10-0 overall mark alive, after going 2-0 in both singles and doubles action last week, including notching a singles victory over the nation's 72nd ranked player in Mississippi State's Georgia Patrasc.

    Luzina comes into this one playing just as well, as she took home Pac-12 Player of the Week honors this week, after she defeated the nation's 41st ranked player in Sophie Watts last week. Luzina is 21-3 overall this season, while posting a 10-1 mark during singles dual match play, all from the No. 1 spot in the lineup.

    Houston vs. Ranked Opponents
    Houston will be going up against its third ranked opponent of the season, as its gone 1-1 vs. ranked teams so far this season...UH has dropped five of their last six ranked matchups overall.

    Last time out for the Cougars
    The Cougars are off to their best six-match start since the 2009 season, improving to 5-1 on the year, after handily defeating Mississippi State, 5-2, last Sunday morning out at the Houston Country Club.

    Houston (5-1), was in control from the very first serve, as senior Celia Fraser and junior Charlotte Phillips teamed up to defeat Mississippi State's (4-2) Alexandra Perper and Tima Guibe, 8-5 in the court three doubles matchup.

    With the doubles point hanging in the balance, freshman Despoina Vogasari and junior Elena Kordolaimi came through when the Cougars needed it most, rallying from a 5-1 deficit to eventually win their court one matchup, 8-5 to secure the doubles point and give Houston the early 1-0 lead.

    It was smooth sailing for the Cougars after that, as Vogasari earned her most impressive victory of the season, making quick work of the 72nd ranked player in the nation in Georgiana Patrasc, winning in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2, from the No. 1 position to sport Houston a 2-0 advantage, while she improved to 6-0 in singles action this season.

    Fraser quickly followed her lead, defeating Tima Guibe, 6-0, 6-2, from the No. 3 spot, to give the Cougars the commanding 3-0 advantage.

    Then it was Phillips, doing what she's done already so many times this year, coming through with the match clinching point on court five, as she blew past Naomi Tran, to give Houston the all-so-important fourth point. Phillips has clinched the match in three of UH's five wins so far this season.

    Sophomore Rocio Martin Fernandez added on one more point for the Cougars, as she came through from the No. 6 position, winning 6-4, 6-4, to give Houston its final tally of five points on the day.

    Vogasari Makes History
    Freshman sensation Despoina Vogasari has been absolutely dominant for the Cougars this season, and she was finally recognized for it this week, as she became the first Houston Cougar to be named American Athletic Conference Player of the Week on Tuesday.

    The Athens, Greece native posted a 4-0 overall record last week, going 2-0 in singles action from the No. 1 position, while teaming up with sophomore Elena Kordolaimi to post a 2-0 mark in doubles play vs. No. 70 Kansas and Mississippi State last week.

    In addition to her perfect record, Vogasari managed to defeat Mississippi State's No. 72 Georgia Patrasc last Sunday in dominating fashion, 6-1, 6-2, marking Houston's first victory over a ranked individual in over six years.

    On Friday, she took down Kansas' Dylan Windom, 6-3, 6-2, handing her one of her two losses on the season.

    Climbing Toward the Top
    Houston finds itself in the national rankings for a second straight week, as it moved up two spots to No. 64 in the nation in this week's ITA poll. The ranking is UH's highest since 2002, and it's just two spots off the best placement in school history (ranked No. 62 on Feb. 20, 2002)...the No. 64 ranking is also second highest in The American, just behind No. 32 Memphis.

    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 9-1 in singles action so far this spring, while the two have paired up to go 4-0 in doubles action...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.

    Charlotte the Clutch Clincher
    Junior Charlotte Phillips is 3-2 in singles action so far this season. All three of her singles victories this season have been match-clinchers for the Cougars. She's clinched the victory in three of Houston's five wins so far this season.

    Battle Tested
    Houston is 1-1 so far this season against ranked opponents, with its lone defeat coming by the slimmest of margins, a 4-3 loss to then No. 70 Kansas on Feb. 14. The Cougars will now play four straight matches against ranked opponents, starting with their first road tests of the year this weekend. Houston will take on No. 59 Washington State on Friday and No. 40 Washington on Sunday, before it heads to Austin, to clash with in-state rival No. 18 Texas on Feb. 28. Houston will then return home to play No. 23 Tulsa on March 1.

    #Winning
    Houston (5-1) is off to its best six-match start since the 2009 spring campaign. The Cougars eventually began that season 11-1.

    They All Count the Same
    Houston is a combined 9-1 from the No. 5 and No. 6 positions so far in singles play this year, compared to a 9-3 combined record from the No. 1 and No. 2 positions. Houston is .500 or better from every position in the lineup this season.

    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 6-0 start this season in singles action, and has still yet to drop a single set, all from the No. 1 position. She also is 4-0 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.

    Quick Leaners
    The three newcomers in sophomore Maria Andrea Cardenas, freshman Despoina Vogasari, and freshman Tina Rupert are a combined 13-3 in singles action this season. Vogasari is 10-0 in overall action this season, as she's paired up with junior Elena Kordolaimi to go 4-0 in doubles matches thus far.

    Recycled Notes

    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.

    Postseason Aspirations
    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.

    Fresh Talent
    Newcomers Maria Andrea Cardenas, Despoina Vogasari, and Tina Rupert make up what was ranked as the sixth best recruiting class in the nation and the tops among mid-majors a year ago.

    Foreign Phenoms
    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 61-22 in three seasons overall as a head coach...he currently owns a record of 18-12 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 wrap up their first road trip of the season, when they head to Seattle, to take on No. 40 Washington, Sunday at 2:00 p.m. CT.


     

     

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