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Injuries doom Cowgirls in loss to UCLA

OSU Women's tennis vs Kansas 10.

Catherine Gulihur in doubles action against Kansas at Michael and Anne Greenwood Tennis Center on Jan. 26, 2019.

Oklahoma State coach Chris Young can’t recall seeing anything like it.

Two players on the OSU women’s tennis team suffered injuries during singles play and were unable to finish their matches.

The forfeits put the Cowgirls in a hole they were unable to dig out of, as they lost to UCLA 4-1 in a top 10 matchup Saturday at Michael and Anne Greenwood Tennis Center.

Early in her first set, Marina Guinart slowly jogged over to to the left side of Court 4 to go stop a ball rolling on the blue concrete. After taking a bad step, her left foot landed awkwardly on the ball, tweaking her ankle. She grimaced in pain, sporting a noticeable limp in her stride.

Guinart tried to give it a go after a trainer taped up her ankle during a break, but could only play a few more games before calling it.

On the other side of Greenwood Tennis Center, senior Sofia Blanco was in control of her match and on pace to get the Cowgirls (4-3) on the board.

But her back suddenly gave out. She gave up her second set lead, and was unable to finish her match.

Young said Blanco’s back had been bothering her all season, and that the injuries put more pressure on the top of OSU’s lineup.

“We knew coming in we were a little bit banged up from last night at Arkansas,” Young said. “Just a freak thing with Marina with her stepping on a ball and rolling her ankle. And Sofi’s up 6-1, 4-1 and her back decides to give out.

“Those two girls hadn’t lost all season. I think it changed the dynamic a little bit with the top three girls. “

Coming off a loss to Arkansas on Saturday night, the No. 9 Cowgirls came out sluggish to begin doubles play. The No. 8 Bruins quickly went up 3-0 on each of the three courts.

OSU began to retaliate, with each Cowgirl duo taking the next two games, but no court was able to complete a comeback.

“I think UCLA is stronger than us in doubles,” Young said. “I don’t know that we necessarily needed the doubles point, we just didn’t need to start the way that we did. It needed to be more competitive.”

In singles, freshman Catherine Gulihur gave OSU its lone point of the day on Court 6 with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Taylor Johnson.

Gulihur was fired up during her match, looking to rebound from a narrow singles defeat against Arkansas that lost the Cowgirls the duel.

“(Arkansas) was a really tough loss for me and the team,” Gulihur said. “Coming back and being able to play so strong, and be on top of my game and having the energy that I did was really a good confidence booster for me.”

UCLA (3-0) finished off OSU when Alysia Bolton defeated Bunyawi Thamchaiwat in straight sets, though both sides had their moments in an intense match.

Still working her way back from ankle surgery, Katie Stresnakova made her first career appearance at No. 1 singles, going back-and-forth with Jada Hart in a tight match that went unfinished.

The defeat gives the Cowgirls their first back-to-back losses since the 2017 season.

“I haven’t had (two players injured in the same match),” Young said. “There’s a lot of things this weekend that I haven’t had in a while. Hopefully it’s something that both of their injuries are things that won’t keep them out for long.

“(UCLA) is one of the better teams in the country for a reason. I think we learned a lot from this.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com