No. 21 Houston Prepares For First American Clash

Charlotte Phillips

#21 Houston (8-2, 0-0 AAC) vs. Temple (3-5, 0-0 AAC)
When Wednesday, March 5, 2014 | 1:00 p.m. CT
Where John E. Hoff Tennis Courts • Houston, Texas
Match Coverage Live Stats | Twitter Coverage
Social Media    
Series History • First meeting between the two programs
• First American matchup for both sides
About Houston

Top Performers
• Despoina Vogasari (13-4, 9-1 Dual)
• Maria Cardenas (13-6, 7-3 Dual)
Tina Rupert (11-5, 6-2 Dual)

ITA Ranking: #21
Home Record: 6-1
Current Streak: Won 1
Last Five Matches: 4-1
Season Stats

About Temple

Top Performers
• Anais Nussaume (9-3, 4-1 Dual)
• Jordan Batey (8-5, 3-4 Dual)
• Minami Okajima (7-5, 3-3 Dual)

ITA Ranking: NR
Road Record: 1-2
Current Streak:Lost 1
Last Five Matches: 1-4
Season Stats

Up Next For Houston March 8 vs. Connecticut
March 8 vs. Tyler Junior College
March 12 at No. 44 Utah
March 16 vs. Louisiana Tech
March 22 at SMU

March 4, 2014

HOUSTON---After defeating their highest ranked opponent since the computer rankings were instituted back in 2001, the Cougars get back to work when they welcome in American Athletic Conference foe Temple, Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. CT out at the John E. Hoff Tennis Courts.

Live Coverage
There will be live stats available for Houston's dual match vs. Temple. To access live stats for the match visit UHCougars.com, click the women's tennis schedule page then click the "Live Stats" link.

Follow the Cougars!
Fans can keep up with the latest in Cougar athletics by following us on Facebook (Facebook.com/HoustonAthletics), Twitter (@UHCougarSports), Instagram (houstoncougars) and YouTube.com (Youtube.com/UHAthletics). In addition, the women's tennis team has established its own official Facebook (Facebook.com/HoustonCougarTennis) and Twitter pages (@UHCougarTennis).

About the Venue
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. Temple

Overall Record: 0-0

Home Record: 0-0

Away Record: 0-0

Neutral Site Record: 0-0

Longest Win Streak: N/A

Longest Losing Streak: N/A

Current Streak: N/A

Record in Last 10 Meetings: N/A

First Meeting: N/A

Last Meeting: N/A

Series Notes: Wednesday's meeting will mark the first-ever meeting between the two programs, as both schools will also be playing in their very first American Athletic Conference match.   

Talking about Temple
Temple (3-5, 0-0 The American) enters this one trying to find their winning groove again, as it's dropped four of its last five contests, and is currently 0-1 against nationally ranked opponents this season. The Owls are led by freshman Anais Nussaume, who has claimed a team-best nine wins this season, sporting a 9-3 singles record overall and a 4-1 singles mark in dual play. She's also a part of the most successful doubles tandem on the staff, as she has paired up with senior Yana Mavrina to go 4-2 in overall doubles action and 2-1 during dual play. Senior Alecia Doms leads the team in overall doubles wins with eight, as she's gone 8-5 in overall doubles play and 3-2 during doubles dual action. The Owls are led by ninth year head coach Steve Mauro.

In the Rankings
Houston enters this one at No. 21 in the nation, while Temple is unranked.

Last time out for the Cougars
The Cougars continued to rewrite the school record book on Saturday, as junior Elena Kordolaimi came through with a huge match-clinching 6-3, 6-7, 6-2 victory from the No. 2 position, to lift Houston to a dramatic 4-3 win over No. 17 Tulsa out at the John E. Hoff Tennis Courts.

Less than 24 hours after dropping just their second match of the season at No. 26 Texas on Friday, the Cougars bounced back in a very big way, as the win over Tulsa marks the highest ranked opponent UH has defeated since the computer rankings were instituted back in 2001.

Things didn't look promising early for Houston (8-2), as Tulsa took the doubles point, putting the Cougars in an early 1-0 hole for the third straight match, as the tandem of Maria Cardenas and Tina Rupert claimed Houston's lone doubles win on court two, 8-4

The Golden Hurricane (9-2) then kept the pressure on in singles play, as No. 109 Yelena Nemchen defeated Celia Fraser, 7-6, 6-1 at the No. 3 spot to claim a 2-0 advantage over the Cougars.

But Houston refused to give in, as freshman Despoina Vogasari earned a momentum-shifting win over the 70th ranked player in the country in Samantha Vickers, 7-6, 7-5 to put the Cougars on the board at 2-1

Then it was freshman Tina Rupert who really set the tone for a Cougar rally, as she dug deep to earn a huge come-from-behind, 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 victory over Tulsa's Renata Kuricova from the No. 5 spot to equalize things at 2-2

With the momentum starting to shift in Houston's favor, Cardenas made sure it stayed that way, as she grinded out a 7-6, 1-6, 6-3 win over Maria San'Anna at the No. 4 spot to give the Cougars their first lead of the day at 3-2.

However, Tulsa battled back to earn the victory on court six, notching things back up at 3-3.

For the second time in the last three matches and for the fourth time this season, it came down to a single point, and just like Tina Rupert and Rocio Martin did earlier this season, Kordolaimi came through for the Cougars, as Houston improved to 5-1 vs. ranked opponents this season and 3-1 in one-point affairs.

Cougars Claw into Top 25
Houston finds itself in the national rankings for a fourth straight week, but more importantly the Cougars jumped up nine spots to No. 21 in the nation, which improved upon what already was the highest recorded school ranking in program history.

Racking up Ranked Wins
Houston just finished up a stretch where six of its last seven matches came against ranked teams, including each of its last four...during that stretch, the Cougars played three consecutive ranked opponents on the road...The Cougars have posted a 4-2 record vs. ranked teams so far this year, while the six ranked opponents played is the most since the 2007-08 campaign and the four wins over ranked teams this spring is already the most recorded ranked victories the Cougars have earned in any season in school history...Houston's win last Saturday vs. No. 17 Tulsa is also the highest ranked opponent the Cougars have ever defeated.

Battle Tested
Houston is 4-2 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 just finished up a stretch where they took on four straight ranked opponents, including three on the road. The four consecutive ranked matchups starting with No. 59 Washington State on Feb. 21 were the most consecutive ranked matches Houston has played since playing five straight ranked opponents during the 2000-01 campaign. Here's how it all went down:

Feb. 21 at No. 59 Washington State (W, 5-2)
Feb. 23 at No. 40 Washington (W, 4-3)
Feb. 28 at No. 26 Texas (L, 0-5)
March 1 vs. No. 17 Tulsa (W, 4-3)

Making American History
With Houston's No. 21 ranking, the Cougars become the very first American Athletic Conference team to be ranked within the nation's top 25...Houston's match Wednesday vs. Temple will also mark the first American match for both schools.

Sitting at the Top
The Cougars are the highest ranked team in The American, sitting in front of Memphis who comes in at No. 27 this week and USF who was placed at No. 62...Houston has now been the highest ranked team in the conference for the second consecutive week.

A Monumental Win
Houston's 4-3 win over No. 17 Tulsa last Saturday marked UH's highest ranked victory since the computer rankings were implemented in 2001.

Clutch Cougars
Houston is 3-1 in one-point decisions this year, while two of UH's last three matches have been decided by a single point. Houston is 2-0 in both of those. Below is a look at Houston's one-point victories this season:

Jan. 26 vs. New Mexico, No. 6- Rocio Martin def. Susan Baklini 7-5, 4-6, 10-8

Feb. 23 at No. 40 Washington, No. 5- Tina Rupert def. Riko Shimizu 1-6, 6-4, 6-3

March 1 vs. No. 17 Tulsa, No. 2- Elena Kordolaimi def. Isaura Enrique 6-3, 6-7, 6-2

The Comeback Kids
Don't call it a comeback! Well, actually more times than not this season you can, as Houston has notched four come-from-behind victories this season: vs. New Mexico, Washington State, Washington, and Tulsa.

Road Warriors
The Cougars are 2-1 on the road so far this season...up in Washington earlier this year, UH snapped what was a perfect 7-0 home mark for Washington State and what was 5-0 home start for Washington. The two schools were a combined 12-0 at home this season before Houston came and beat them both.

What's Trending?
The Cougars have lost the doubles point in three straight matches...Houston is 4-0 vs. unranked teams this season...the Cougars have moved up in the national rankings in four consecutive weeks ...Houston hasn't scored less than three points in any home match this season.

Houston (8-2) is off to its best 10-match start since the 2009 spring campaign. The Cougars eventually began that season 11-1.

They All Count the Same
Houston is a combined 14-4 from the No. 5 and No. 6 positions so far in singles play this year, compared to a 13-6 combined record from the No. 1 and No. 2 positions. The Cougars have a winning record in five of six singles positions this season.

Yeah, She's No. 1
Freshman Despoina Vogasari has played each of her 10 singles matchups from the No. 1 spot this season, posting a 9-1 record, while claiming a 13-4 record in overall singles action this season. Vogasari is 3-1 vs. nationally ranked opponents this year, after earning a 7-6, 7-5 victory over 70th ranked Samantha Vickers last Saturday in Houston's win over Tulsa.

Can't Run With Rupert
Freshman Tina Rupert has gotten off to a dominating 6-2 start this spring in singles action, after starting just 5-3 in the fall. She has clinched two of the last three match victories for Houston.

Charlotte the Clutch Clincher
Junior Charlotte Phillips is 13-5 in overall singles action and 5-3 in dual play. Three of her five dual match singles victories this season have been match-clinchers for the Cougars. She's clinched the victory in three of Houston's eight wins so far this season.

Quick Leaners
The three newcomers in sophomore Maria Andrea Cardenas, freshman Despoina Vogasari, and freshman Tina Rupert are a combined 22-6 in dual play singles action this season and 37-15 overall.

Recycled Notes

What a Weekend in Washington
Houston's wins at No. 59 Washington State and No. 40 Washington on Feb. 21 and Feb. 23 mark the two highest ranked opponents UH has defeated in consecutive matches in school history....the weekend also marked the first time the Cougars had defeated ranked teams in consecutive outings since downing both No. 75 Utah (5-0) on March 13 and No. 75 UCF (5-2) on March 16, 2004...Cougars earned back-to-back ranked road wins for the first time since 2001-02, when they won at No. 69 Penn State (5-2) on March 4 and took a 4-3 win at No. 75 Virginia Tech on March 7.

Vogasari Claims Back-to-Back Player of the Week Awards 
Freshman sensation Despoina Vogasari was named American Athletic Conference Tennis Player of the Week in back-to-back weeks on Feb 25 and Feb. 18. It was the first time any Cougar had earned consecutive conference player of the week honors in school history. 

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.

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 is in his second season at Houston with an overall coaching record of 64-23 in three seasons overall as a head coach...he currently owns a record of 21-13 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 take part in their first doubleheader of the year, when they clash with conference foe Connecicut this Saturday at 10:00 a.m. CT and then play Tyler Junior College at 2:00 p.m. CT later that same day. Both matches will be held at the John E. Hoff Tennis Courts.



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