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Cowgirls prepare for Arkansas, UCLA in action-packed weekend

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Lisa Marie Rioux during her OSU-Wyoming match at the Greenwood Tennis Center in Stillwater, January 20, 2019.

There will be no absence of talent when the Oklahoma State women’s tennis team takes the court in Fayetteville, Arkansas, against the Razorbacks on Friday to begin a crucial weekend on their season schedule.

The Cowgirls (4-1) head into the contest after a thrilling match against Kansas in which OSU won by the narrow margin of 4-3. Arkansas enters the contest after sweeping a doubleheader against Arkansas Pine Bluff, winning 7-0 and 5-0, respectively.

No. 9 OSU will be the visitors after playing its past three matches in Michael and Anne Greenwood Tennis Center. OSU coach Chris Young said he likes the challenge a road match will bring the Cowgirls.

“I think you have to face a little uncertainty with the courts and with the crowd, and with (being) outside your comfort zone, but I think that’s such a good thing because that’s the only way you grow as a person and as a player is to really be uncomfortable,” Young said.

Arkansas (6-0) is the first of two tests the Cowgirls will face this weekend.

Young said the speed of Arkansas’ courts will challenge OSU in similar ways that Tulsa’s did earlier this season.

“Being on the road in different situations, Tulsa’s courts were a lot faster than ours, Arkansas’ will be, so it will really challenge us with the speed of the courts,” Young said.

OSU will immediately travel home to host the UCLA Bruins at 3 p.m. on Saturday, just a day after its match with the Razorbacks. UCLA boasts a top-10 ranking ahead of the match, coming in at No. 8 in the latest ITA rankings.

Young said he likes the challenge playing multiple opponents in quick succession will have for the battle-tested Cowgirls.

“I think that’s what you want to do early in the season is challenge your team, put them in some really uncomfortable situations that aren’t necessarily ideal,” Young said.

The UCLA matchup is a familiar one to the Cowgirls, who dealt the Bruins a defeat this past season. This match will add the Bruins to the list of big names to visit Stillwater before the ITA championships, helping build the program’s credibility with strength of schedule.

“When you are building a program and building a product, you want to be able to have things that attract people,” Young said. “Last year with Florida and Miami and some of those teams coming in, and then to build this home-and-home with UCLA, we got the win at their place last year and they are going to come in here ready to do the same against us.”

Young said he is confident in the preparedness of his team going into the weekend.

“I’m not sure too many teams would go on the road and play at Arkansas and then come home and play UCLA, but I think that has been the mark of our program as we try to make our kids a little bit uncomfortable and prepared for anything,” Young said.

sports.ed@ocolly.com