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OSU defeats Central Arkansas to advance in NCAA tournament

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Oklahoma State player Marina Guinart (left) and Katarina Stresnakova (right) celebrate the doubles victory during the Oklahoma State vs. Central Arkansas women's tennis match in the NCAA Stillwater Regional at the Michael and Anne Greenwood Tennis Center in Stillwater on Friday, May 3, 2019.

The Cowgirls didn't mess around when they faced Central Arkansas in the opening round of the NCAA tournament on Friday night.

The Oklahoma State women's tennis team (20-7, 8-1 Big 12) reached the 20-win mark for the fifth straight season with its shutout of Central Arkansas. OSU coach Chris Young was satisfied with the way the Cowgirls played against a tough opponent after an extended period of rest. 

“I thought Central Arkansas came out and played really well,” Young said. “Credit to them. We knew that they were going to be a tough opponent and they played really good doubles. They are really well coached, so they made the right moves at the right time and that forced us to execute. And that’s exactly what we needed after not having a match for two weeks.” 

The Cowgirls started off the doubles point strong, with Katarina Stresnakova and Marina Guinart defeating UCA’s (20-8, 9-2 SLC) Chunxi Xin and Marli Van Heerden, 6-1. OSU's Tamara Arnold and Bunyawi Thamchaiwat would clinch the doubles point with a 6-4 victory over Fuka Nonoyama and Yada Vasupongchai. Cowgirl Sofia Blanco was impressed with the team's doubles performance, even though her doubles match was left unfinished.

“I think it was very important to get the doubles,” Blanco said. “The other team competed really well, so it was good for us because they challenged us. I think we did a really good job in doubles.”

Cowgirls Lisa Marie Rioux, Thamchaiwat and Blanco picked up wins in singles to go with the doubles point victory that resulted in a 4-0 sweep of the Bears. Rioux explained what she saw from her opponent that helped her start her singles match quick.

“I just tried to focus on my game instead of getting distracted by other opponents playing better,” Rioux said. “And she was Japanese and I know her a little bit. I just tried to not think to much about her.” 

The Cowgirls will play Miami (FL) in the regional final Saturday at 2 p.m. The Hurricanes defeated Washington State 4-3 prior to OSU's match on Friday.

Young stressed the importance that the Central Arkansas match could have on the Cowgirls' upcoming match.

“I think that’s the most important thing for us, after a little bit of a layoff, to come out strong and to get pushed," Young said. "I think it was really important for us to get pushed tonight and to play a high-level match. I thought that we really did. I really think that this match here is exactly what we needed for tomorrow."

sports.ed@ocolly.com