The West Virginia University women’s tennis team will begin the spring season by facing a familiar foe in Pittsburgh. On Saturday, January 21, the Mountaineers will play the Pitt Panthers, and that’s only the beginning of the team’s tough schedule ahead.
The Mountaineers are in for one of the toughest seasons in program history. They are set to play eight teams that made it to the NCAA Championships in 2016. Out of those eight teams, six of them got past the first round, and one even made it to the national championship game.
“We will approach spring season the right way, which means attacking the matches from the first match on, and then seeing the spring season as a process in which we will improve as a team,” head coach Miha Lisac says, “[Competition] is tough, has been tough, and is going to continue to be tough.”
Assistant coach Emily Harman says she is excited for this season because “it’s definitely a lot stronger than the programs seen in the past.”
Tennis doesn’t work like many other sports in the sense that there are no “superstar” players. Everybody has to contribute in tennis since there are no singled-out key players; A lot of teamwork and cohesiveness goes into matches. Head coach Miha Lisac says that everyone has to be a team player. “We have six players and everybody counts for one point in singles, so having one superstar really doesn’t take care of the other five points,” Coach Lisac says, “It’s a fairly, evenly matched team.”
Fourth-year head coach Miha Lisac, a native Slovenian, has put together a comprehensive roster of student athletes from all around the world. The Mountaineers come from six different countries, including five different continents. In addition to international talent, Lisac has also found home-grown talent in the Mountain State. Out of his 11 players, three are native West Virginians.
Big 12 Conference
“The bar has been established in the Big 12 by many programs for many years,” head coach Miha Lisac said. “They are good programs. We are always going to respect what teams have done so far in the Big 12 conference.”
The Mountaineers will begin conference play on March 11 in Ames, Iowa, as they take on Iowa State. The squad will then head down to Kansas on March 24 and Kansas State on March 26.
WVU will open Big 12 play in Morgantown on March 31 when they take on NCAA third round participant Texas. The following four matches feature the most grueling part of the schedule for the Mountaineers as they face teams that were ranked No. 32 or higher in the final 2016 Oracle/ITA rankings, including a match opposing Oklahoma State, the 2016 national runner-up, in Morgantown on April 21.
The final match of the season will be against Oklahoma on April 23. WVU will then travel to the Big 12 Championship that will be held in Norman, Oklahoma on April 27-April 30.