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Volume 70, Issue 128, Wednesday, April 13, 2005


Cougar netters hope to finish strong

By Jordan Overturf
The Daily Cougar

After reaching the highest Intercollegiate Tennis Association ranking in three years, the No. 70 UH tennis team will close their season at home this weekend against in-state foes Texas-El Paso Friday and Lamar and Sam Houston State on Sunday.

"It's still positive; we have just as many wins as we did last season with three matches left," UH head tennis coach John Severance said. "We've had a very difficult schedule. We've been close to a lot of matches and were getting better."

So far in his first year as coach, Severance has led the team through a successful season with a 12-8 record. Last season, the Cougars marked a record of 15-10 going into the Conference USA tournament. Despite the team's 1-5 record against ranked teams and 0-1 conference record, the team has several strong leaders that have stepped up.

"We have a chance if our six singles players all step up," Severance said. "If we win our remaining three home games going up to conference, the seeding is up in the air. We expect to compete for conference title. Anything can happen, and we have a good shot."

Senior Biljana Dimovska started the season strong at the No. 1 spot for the Cougars that included a 10-match winning streak at the beginning of the season, a Conference USA player of the Week award on Feb. 9 and has continued to be a top competitor for the team. 

"Biljana has a really good work ethic," said junior Yolandi Terblanche about her doubles partner. "Everything she does on the court is important to her; she is a true leader."

Dimovska still holds the No. 1 slot for the Cougars and has a record of 13-7 in singles. In the latter half of the season, Dimovska's performance is on a skid as she is currently on a three-match losing streak.

Junior Kami Miller is the leading scorer for the Cougars. At 16-4, Miller is the top winner in singles and is currently enjoying a seven-game winning streak including a single point earned for the Cougars in their last match against Tulsa. 

"Kami plays with the best heart," senior Diana Martin said. 

Miller has bounced around playing all positions, except the top two slots and has typically taken out her opponent quickly. Miller also boasts a solid doubles record at 10-6 the majority with Martin.

"Diana is an excellent doubles partner," said Miller. "She is a great fighter."

Together Miller and Martin have posted an 8-2 record in doubles this season, making the two athletes team leaders in doubles. Martin follows Miller closely with a record of 10-5 in doubles for the season. 

Despite fighting illness midseason, Martin has also been a strong contributor for the team in singles. Martin is at .500 with an 8-8 record in singles at the No. 2 and 3 slots.

Another consistent scorer is Terblanche. Thus far in the season, Terblanche sits at 12-4 in singles in the lower courts. Though Terblanche is a solid singles player, when teamed up with Dimovska in doubles, the two veterans become a dominant force with an 8-3 record, making them the second most successful pair on the squad.

"Together we become ‘the warriors'," Dimovska said about teaming up with Terblanche in doubles. "She focuses better than anyone else and is very strong mentally."

Yet separately, the two are also leaders in doubles with Terblanche at 12-4 and Dimovska at 11-5.

Freshman Brianna Bateup at 7-9 has stepped up big for the Cougars taking on multiple positions including the No. 2 slot. After joining the team at the beginning of the spring semester, Bateup immediately became a key player for the team with her first match being at the No. 3 slot. Joining Bateup is fellow freshman Tiffany McLoughlin. At the No. 6 spot, McLoughlin has helped boost the Cougars to a few victories this season at 5-8 in singles and 2-0 in doubles.

On April 21, the first day of the conference tourney, the Cougars look to face some tough top-ranked teams such as ITA No. 75 Louisville, No. 56 South Florida, No. 15 Tulane and No. 19 Texas Christian. TCU was the team that bested the Cougars in their only conference match. DePaul is the conference leader with a record of 4-0. However, at 16-2 the ladies of TCU have the best overall record in the conference. 

As for the seeding in the tournament, the Cougars look to lock in the top five, which doesn't put them far from their No. 3 seeding in last year's bracket. With the standings the way they are right now, Tulane has the highest prospect of becoming top seed followed by TCU in second, South Florida in third, the Cougars in fourth and Louisville in fifth. DePaul's record of 4-0 in conference play will place them just under the ranked teams.

"Ranked opponents have been a highlight of this season," Severance said. "We took a couple doubles and singles points; (the 4-3 loss to) LSU was another highlight. (Last season) we weren't even competing with teams and coming close to upsetting a ranked team. A couple years ago, we had no chance, so watching this program grow has been the real highlight."

The UH team hopes to finish the season strong with victories against UTEP at noon Friday and Lamar and SHSU at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Sunday respectively.

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