Tuesday, February 23, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 99

Sykes and Friends tune it up for Rice tonight

Stringfellow looks to get UH back to the stars

About the Cougar

No. 36 Lady Cougar tennis team takes on rival A&M today

By Andrew J. Ferraro
Daily Cougar Staff

It's hard to tell just what kind of season a team can expect after only four meets. With that in mind, the UH tennis team is not to be discounted.

At 2-2, it is possible to mark the team as inconsistent or, perhaps, as two-faced. A pair of losses to Louisiana State (2-7) and Texas Christian (4-5) marred the otherwise convincing 9-0 and 6-3 victories over Lamar and Texas-Arlington.

It is early, however, and the positives certainly outweigh the negatives in tennis. Every team hits the occasional slide, and the Cougars are no different. After all, there is reasoning behind their No. 36 rank by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.

When UH faces regional rival Texas A&M today at 2 p.m., it will mark the fourth time the two teams have met since the breakup of the Southwest Conference following the 1996 season.

After two straight losses in the post-mortem seasons, the Cougars won the biggest match in the history of the series, a 5-3 victory in the first round of the 1998 NCAA regionals at Baton Rouge, La.

After a heavily wounded squad limped into College Station for the first meeting of the year, UH found itself with a 3-6 loss, but that was quickly erased as the Cougars avenged that "L" two months later and advanced to the second round of regional play for the first time in school history.

"It's a very big rivalry," sophomore Joanna Cunliffe said. "We need to focus, and that's the only way we are going to beat them."

Does that make today's match any different than any other match? The Aggies are marked as "intellectually challenged" folks, but they do not forget. The Cougars are convinced that they can rebound from a pair of losses and challenge A&M with the best of them.

"I think we are in better shape than they are physically," freshman Kailey Meisinger said. "If you are in better shape, you will be there until the end."

After today's bout with Texas A&M, the Cougars will enter their toughest stretch of the season with three matches in three days -- all on the road -- against New Mexico, UC-Irvine and Colorado.

This is enough to give any team a heavy share of headaches, but Houston is a team out to prove that it is deserving of a top 20 spot. The only way to do this, however, is to win.

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