Cowgirls Tennis Hosting ITA National Regional and It's Just the Beginning
STILLWATER -- Oklahoma State director of tennis and women's head coach Chris Young will get butterflies in his stomach Saturday morning and they will kick up a little as noon approaches and his Cowgirls begin their match with the University of San Diego with doubles.
"They (San Diego) have their best team ever and they will be a challenge," Young told me on Friday.
The Cowgirls are favored as they are ranked 10th in the nation by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. That is why Oklahoma State is one of 16 schools hosting a regional this weekend for the ITA Kickoff, a national tournament that Young believes is as hard to win as the one Oklahoma State will host from May 14-17. That one is the NCAA Tennis Championships, men and women. Then from May 18-23 the Greenwood Tennis Center on the OSU campus will host the singles and doubles championships.
Welcome to the most prestigious season of tennis in Oklahoma State history. The Cowgirls are ranked 10th and besides San Diego, 24th-ranked Wake Forest and 25th-ranked Ohio State are also in Stillwater this weekend.
"A weekend like this will only get our fans more excited with the caliber of competition and the excitement of these matches," Young added.
Oklahoma State plays San Diego at noon on Saturday. Wake Forest and Ohio State follow at 3 p.m. The losers will play at 11 a.m. on Sunday and the winners play 2 p.m. to decide who moves on to the next round in Chicago.
The Oklahoma State men are ranked 14th and they are in Knoxville, Tenn and will open in the ITA Kickoff with 18th-ranked Columbia.
Young's team is unbeaten this spring at 4-0 in match competition and last weekend played in an individual singles and doubles tournament in Las Vegas with host UNLV and top-ranked Stanford, 2nd-ranked North Carolina, 4th-ranked UCLA, and 6th-ranked Pepperdine.
The Cowgirls number three singles player Bunyawi Thamchaiwat advanced all the way to the singles final with wins over Makenna Jones of UNC in the quarters and North Carolina's Kacie Harvey in the semis before Thamchaiwat lost to Michaela Jones of the Tarheels in three sets 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the championship.
Making an equally big impression on the other teams in Las Vegas were the Oklahoma State fans, yes, the Cowgirls had fans travel with them to Vegas.
"The coaches at Stanford and North Carolina, they were surprised at all the fans we took just for an individual tournament to get some matches," Young said proudly. "They said they could imagine what it was going to be like in Stillwater for the NCAA if we took that many fans to Las Vegas for that event. They said they couldn't wait to get here. Our fans were clapping on match point and getting excited just like they do for a match at the Greenwood Tennis Center."
The Greenwood Tennis Center has newly resurfaced courts, a new indirect and brighter lighting system inside. Young said ticket packages for the NCAA and promotions like a fanfest are about to be announced. Remember too, the tennis program is hosting the Big 12 Tennis Championships for both the men and the women prior to the NCAA.
Stillwater, Oklahoma is College Tennis USA this spring. If you want a little preview of what it will be like check out the action Saturday, Jan. 25 with San Diego at noon and then hopefully the Cowgirls win and play either Wake Forest or Ohio State at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 26.