Cougar Tennis Team Selected For NCAA Championships

May 2, 2002

PULLMAN, Wash. -- The Washington State women's tennis team received an at-large berth to the 2002 Division I NCAA Women's Tennis Championships when the 64-team field was announced Thursday.

The Cougars (11-10), No. 27 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's May 1 poll, will face No. 25 Fresno State (16-5) at Berkeley, Calif., May 10. The Cougars lost to Fresno State 4-1 March 10 in Spokane.

'We're playing much better tennis than when we faced them (the Bulldogs) the first time,' said WSU Head Coach Cari Groce. 'They're going to be a tough team and we're going to have to play very well. I certainly like our chances better than the last time we played them.'

If the Cougars defeat the Bulldogs, they will play the winner of the host California/BYU match May 11. Washington State beat both Mountain West Conference representative BYU (4-3, March 4 in Provo, Utah) and Pac-10 member California (5-2, March 29 in Pullman) during the regular season. No. 12 California and No. 45 BYU both received at-large berths from their respective conferences.

In addition to the team selection, senior Erica Perkins (Seattle)--No. 50 in the latest ITA rankings--received a bid to the Individual Singles Championships, which will be held May 16-25 at Stanford, Calif. It is Perkins' third appearance as an individual at the NCAA Championships. In 1999, as a sophomore, Perkins became the first singles player in WSU history to be invited to the individual championships. Her 87 career singles victories are a WSU record.

The doubles' tandem of Perkins and sophomore Stacy McKenna (North Bend, Ore.)--No. 12 in the ITA rankings--became just the second doubles team in WSU history to be selected for the individual championships, also held May 16-25 in Stanford, Calif. The Cougar duo has won 24 matches this season, a Cougar single-season record. Last season, McKenna teamed with Ana Maria Moura in the Individual Doubles Championships.

'Right now we have to work very hard as a team,' said Perkins. 'The individual tournament is not a high-pressure situation. The best way to approach it is to see it as a bonus. The focus is on the team tournament.'

The team selection to the tournament is the second consecutive and fourth in the last five years for the Cougars.

Last season, the Cougars advanced to the second round for the first time in school history by defeating Indiana 4-0 before losing 4-0 to host Tennessee.

All nine Pac-10 schools (Oregon State does not have women's tennis) were selected to this year's tournament. The nine bids handed out to the Pac-10 are the second most among conferences in this year's tournament (SEC 10).

'The Pac-10 Conference is one of the strongest in the country and that makes you a better player,' said sophomore Lorena Arias. 'The regular season experience prepares us for any team in the nation.'

For ticket information for the 2002 NCAA Division I Women's Tennis Championships, hosted by Stanford, call 1-800-STANFORD or 650-723-1021.

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