Nearly six months ago, Oklahoma State University was scheduled to host the Big 12 Women’s Tennis Championships. Thanks to a global pandemic, many exciting plans, including hosting the NCAA championships at the Michael and Anne Greenwood Tennis Center as well as the conference finals, were quickly crushed.
However, the OSU Cowgirls were able to play a full three day Big 12 Fall Classic tournament this weekend in Stillwater.
“I think the most important thing for us was being able to host this event,” women’s tennis coach Chris Young said. “We obviously wanted to host the NCAA championships in the spring but hosting a tournament with the majority of the Big 12 schools is a great consolation.”
This weekend’s tournament was also the first of its kind.
“Normally, the ITA (Intercollegiate Tennis Association) Fall Championships are this weekend, so all the teams could play as many matches as possible leading up to the event, and then this serves as a true championship type format,” Young said.
OSU was able to claim three individual titles on the weekend. The doubles pair of Bunyawi Thamchaiwat and Ayumi Miyamoto defeated Baylor’s Alicia Herrero Linana and Mel Krywoj in a one-set format 6-2. On the singles side, sophomore Alana Wolfberg was victorious over her teammate Thamchaiwat in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 to claim the flight one title.
In an individual tournament, two teammates facing others in a high-stakes match is always a possibility.
“It’s a difficult situation to play your teammate,” Wolfberg said. “I’m proud that it was two OSU girls in the finals. It is never a good situation to play a teammate, but you just do what you normally do.”
Wolfberg stuck to her routine of self-encouragement throughout the match.
“I try not to lose focus at all, Wolfberg said. I don’t look around to see all the supporters and coaches, I just stay where I need to be and that helps me a lot. The more I talk to myself, the more locked in I am,” Wolfberg said.
In the singles flight two bracket, sophomore Dariya Detkovskaya of Kazakhstan swept Baylor’s Angelina Shakhraichuk 7-5, 6-2.
Young and the Cowgirls pitched the idea of a fall tournament to fellow Big 12 coaches and quickly arrived at a resolution.
Unfortunately, West Virginia and Texas were unable to make the trip because, according to Young, the Big 12 has restricted fall tennis travel to destinations within driving distance.
Despite not being able to compete with two Big 12 schools, the tournament gave Young and his squad an opportunity to see other Big 12 teams and gauge levels of competition.
“This tournament gave us a really great idea of what it takes to win a Big 12 championship,” Young said. “We showed this weekend that we are as strong as any team in the conference so if we continue to improve, we have an opportunity to accomplish some great goals.”
Outside of what he saw on the court, Young said he was extremely proud of the way his team handled the COVID-19 protocols. The Cowgirls finished the fall season without a positive COVID-19 case.
Even after finishing a successful fall season, more uncertainty surrounds the spring season for the Cowgirls. A schedule is still a work in progress.