Mountaineers ready for ‘Horns
Published: Friday, September 21, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 21, 2012 07:09
The West Virginia women’s tennis team will get their first taste of Big 12 tennis action this weekend when they travel to Austin, Texas, to compete in the Longhorn Invitational.
According to head coach Tina Samara, the tournament, hosted by the University of Texas, will feature a higher level of competition than any other tournament in which the program has competed.
"From what I know, (the Longhorn Invitational) is the strongest fall tournament West Virginia has played in," Samara said. "Our spring season will be full of that, so we might as well get used to it now."
Aside from allowing the Mountaineers a preview of what is to come this spring, Samara expects her team to focus on developing their own games. At the end of the tournament, the coach wants to have a good understanding of exactly where the Mountaineers stand.
"We are focusing just on what we are doing," Samara said. "Obviously, at the end of it all, we will kind of get a good idea of where we are at in that grouping."
Joining West Virginia at the Invitational this weekend will be fellow Big 12 schools Texas, Oklahoma and TCU. LSU, North Texas, UTSA, SMU, Houston, Rice, Denver and Tulane will make up the other schools that will send a total of 64 players to compete in the weekend’s tournament.
Despite the high level of competition, Samara is eager to see her ladies compete, especially against some Big 12 teams. The third-year coach said she hopes her team is as fired up as she is.
"As a coach, and players that are ambitious, that is what (we) look for, that’s what (we) want," she said. "Hopefully, everyone here wants that."
Samara wants to see her team embrace the challenges that come with playing such standout competition.
"If you want to win just because your competition is not good, then that is not ambitious," she said.
Samara will send all six Mountaineers to Austin this weekend to participate in the Longhorn Invitational, featuring four draws. Freshman Hailey Barret, seeded six, and senior Emily Mathis, seeded 11, will compete in the Black Draw. The Fuschia Draw will feature freshman Irinka Toidze, who shares the Mountaineers’ highest seed at two, and fellow freshman Vivian Tsui. Toidze shares the highest seed with senior Ashley Wooland, who is seeded two in the Orange Draw, while sophomore Ikktesh Chahal rounds out the tournament in the White Draw, seeded 14.
Doubles will have two separate draws. Barret and Wooland will team up in the Orange Draw, seeded 11, to take on a duo out of Tulane. The White draw will feature Toidze and Tsui competing as the four seeds, and Chahal and Mathis, who played doubles together last year, as 10 seeds.
Despite the small number of team members the Mountaineers feature, Samara is thrilled to watch her team compete this weekend and as the season progresses.
"Everyone’s doing well," Samara said. "Really I can’t complain; it is small, but a solid group.
"We are very excited. We’re just trying to keep ourselves healthy so we can last the whole year."