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Cowgirl tennis readies for Big 12 tournament

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OSU senior Sofi Blanco hugs freshman Catherine Guilihur after the pair notches a double victory during the No. 9 Oklahoma State women's tennis match against No. 6 Texas at Michael and Anne Greenwood Tennis Center on March 31, 2019.

The Oklahoma State women’s tennis team will begin its quest for a Big 12 championship Friday morning in Lawrence, Kansas.

The Cowgirls enter the Big 12 tournament as the 2-seed, with Texas being the top seed in the competition. OSU (18-6, 8-1 Big 12) will look to carry the momentum it has earned from its recent stretch of victories into conference tournament play. Cowgirl coach Chris Young addressed the Cowgirls' preparations for the opening matches of the tournament.

“I think for us it’s just about getting better,” Young said. “I think we’ve been improving for the last two or three months, but we have been on a really steady incline of our development and our improvement. So this week is really just about each individual player improving on things that we saw from this weekend.”

Oklahoma State enters the tournament with an experienced lineup led by seniors Sofia Blanco, Katarina Stresnakova and Marina Guinart. The Cowgirls are also coming off of a win against No. 26 Texas Tech in Lubbock Sunday afternoon.

With the matches being played at an away venue, Young believes that the test against Texas Tech prepared the Cowgirls for the challenge the tournament will offer.

“We know that every team is capable of playing better against us,” Young said. “The more you see teams, the more familiar they are going to be. We’re going into the Kansas State/West Virginia match on Friday with whoever we play between those, then that’s all we are focused on right now.”

OSU has plenty of experienced players who have not competed in the Big 12 tournament before this year. Cowgirl Lisa Marie Rioux talked about the competition the Big 12 has and how she will adjust to the matches if the conditions are windy.

“I’m really focused now on preparing fast when I play because it’s going to be windy,” Rioux said. “I always get late when it is windy so I need to prepare earlier than usually.”

While expectations are high for the Cowgirls' performance in the tournament, freshman Catherine Guilihur is confident they Cowgirls can perform well in Lawrence.

“I feel really good and I think that the team feels really good as a whole too,” Guilihur said. “Finally beating (Texas) Tech at Tech for the first time in whoever knows how long, I mean that’s a huge confidence booster right there. I just feel like we all feel super good heading into the Big 12 tournament.”

Young said the Cowgirls will focus on one match at a time and not look past the opening match of the tournament Friday. The Cowgirls will play the winner of Kansas State and West Virginia in the first round.

sports.ed@ocolly.com