TENNIS: Cyclones to end regular season with Cowgirls, Sooners

Liza Wischer, junior, sends the ball over the net against Nebraska. Wischer won 2 of her 3 matches while the Cyclones also lost to the Huskers 6-1. Photo: Rebekka Brown/Iowa State Daily

Dan Tracy —

For the third time this season, the Cyclones will go on the road to face a pair of ranked opponents in their two final matches of the 2009-’10 regular season.

Iowa State (9-12, 2-7 Big 12) will make stops in Stillwater and Norman, Okla., to face the No. 57 Oklahoma State Cowgirls and the No. 37 Oklahoma Sooners.

The Cyclones have struggled lately, losing their last six matches against Big 12 opponents. However, with wins already against Colorado and Missouri this year, the Cyclones currently hold the No. 10 seed for next weekend’s Big 12 Tournament. A win against either the Cowgirls or the Sooners would make way for two firsts in ISU tennis history; the program’s first season with three Big 12 wins and the team’s highest Big 12 Tournament seed in program history.

“It’s important, I mean aside from making it the most [Big 12] wins in the program [a win] is going to allow us to be maybe seeded eighth or ninth,” Coach Armando Espinosa said. “It would be huge if we get to play a lower seed, if we finished tenth then we are bound to play [the seven seed].”

Friday’s match-up with Oklahoma State (11-8, 4-5) will pit two teams against each other that could have very well had similar records going into the weekend. The Cowgirls four Big 12 wins have come against Colorado, Missouri, Kansas and Kansas State. The Cyclones 12 victories also came against Colorado and Missouri and the next weekend the Cyclones fell to both Kansas schools in 4-3 nailbiters.

“[Oklahoma] State has won the same matches we have, beating Colorado and Missouri and they only have four wins so its a team that I think we have a chance to compete against,” Espinosa said.

Playing Oklahoma State in late April will be familiar for members of last year’s Cyclone squad as the Cowgirls knocked off the Cyclones 4-1 in the first round of last year’s Big 12 Tournament.

Oklahoma (16-4, 6-3) is trying to hold onto their first round bye in the Big 12 Tournament, currently holding the No. 4 seed. The Sooners have been a tough team to beat this season, playing in the most Big 12 matches this season, four, that ended in a 4-3 decision. Espinosa recognizes that in order to pull off the upset, the Cyclones will need consistent play from all players on both the singles and the doubles court.

“I don’t think we’ve had a match yet where everybody has shown up and played, we’ve been very sporadic in some matches,” Espinosa said. “I think if we can all put our games together we have the ability to compete with anybody.”

Looking around the Big 12 on the final weekend of the regular season, Missouri and Kansas, the two teams behind the Cyclones in the Big 12, will face an uphill battle as they try to position themselves for next weekend’s Big 12 Tournament. Kansas (9-12, 1-8) will be up against No. 70 Texas Tech and No. 2 Baylor this weekend while Missouri (6-14, 1-8) hosts No. 19 Texas and No. 36 Texas A&M. Barring a major upset, the Cyclones will control their own destiny this weekend in Oklahoma.

“It’s all on our shoulders, if we win one or both we finish eighth or ninth,” Espinosa said.

The Cyclones will take on the Cowgirls on Friday at 2 p.m. and then travel to Norman on Saturday to play the Sooners at 11 a.m.