Cowgirl tennis readies for clash with No. 2 North Carolina

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OSU Catherine Gulihur stretches for the ball during Oklahoma State-Baylor tennis matchup at Michael and Anne Greenwood Tennis Center on March 29, 2019.

The Cowgirls are in the round of 16 of the NCAA tennis tournament after their narrow victory against Miami this past weekend, but their next matchup could test the team more Saturday.

The Oklahoma State women's tennis team (21-7, 7-1 Big 12) will travel to Chapel Hill to face the North Carolina with a trip to the national quarterfinals on the line. The Cowgirls reached the Round of 16 by defeating Central Arkansas and No. 19 Miami at the Greenwood Tennis Center the past weekend.

North Carolina boasts a 31-1 record, including a 22-game winning streak heading into the contest with the Cowgirls. The Tarheels are also undefeated when playing at home, holding a 16-0 record in Chapel Hill this season. 

North Carolina is also home to multiple top-15 doubles teams in the country. OSU coach Chris Young explained the thought process the Cowgirls will bring into the doubles point.

“I think they definitely will be favored to win the doubles point,” Young said. “But it gives us a chance to really play free, and I think that we can play free and aggressive the way we did against Miami. You look at their match with Miami, the last time they played the doubles point it was very competitive just like ours was.” 

Cowgirl freshman Catherine Gulihur said she feels confident heading into the weekend.

“I feel like the mindset as a whole is that we as a team know that we are skilled and know that we have the potential to really bring it to North Carolina,” Gulihur said. “If we play our hearts out and if we leave it all out on the court with energy and just everything, I believe we can beat them.” 

Cowgirl senior Katarina Stresnakova will be looking to bounce back after losing a hard-fought match to the top women’s singles player in the country this past weekend.

Stresnakova will not have it easy, as the Cowgirl will likely be facing another top-10 opponent against the Tarheels. Stresnakova spoke about her preparation for the matches against challenging opposition.

“It’s not really about these two weeks,” Stresnakova said. “I think the preparation is over the whole semester. We’ve been working hard. It’s honestly just the little differences that separates me and the top players in the country right now, and I believe that if I keep working hard I can eventually get the win.”

Stresnakova said she is confident the Cowgirls will be up for the Tarheels' challenge. 

“We are going very open-minded,” Stresnakova said. “I think that as long as we are going to play like we have nothing to lose and just take it as a challenge with no pressure, I think we can get the win.”

The round of 16 match is set to begin at 2 p.m. Saturday.

sports.ed@ocolly.com