The Thundering Herd competes as the third seed
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – The Marshall University’s women’s tennis team will travel to Houston, Texas to compete in the Conference USA Championship, which will be hosted by Rice University. All matches will be played at the Jack Hess Tennis Center.
The No. 72 Thundering Herd ended its regular season at 13-10 and will compete as the third seed behind the number two seed, Tulsa and the number one seed, SMU.
“I think we are in a good position as the third seed,” Marshall’s head coach John Mercer said. “It will be beneficial to have a bye the first round as one of the top four teams. Our position will also help with our progression in the tournament.”
Marshall earned a first round bye and will begin championship action, Friday, at 3 p.m. (EST) against the winner of UAB and ECU, who compete Thursday at 3 p.m. (EST). UAB is the No. 11 seed, while the Pirates are the sixth seed.
“I am excited for my final appearance at the conference championship,” senior Kellie Schmitt (Pittsburgh, Pa.) said. “We have been working hard to prepare for the championship. The tough matches we have had throughout the season have prepared us for the tough road ahead of us.”
In 2008, the Herd finished runner-up behind Tulsa at the C-USA championship. Marshall earned the doubles point, but couldn’t hold off the Golden Hurricane in singles competition and fell 4-1.
“I think our seed will challenge us, but it isn’t anything we can’t handle,” senior Jessica Keener (Reston, Va.) said. “I am excited for the opportunity to play in my final conference championship. I feel confident we can bring home the title.”
The Mustangs stand as the nation’s 23rd-ranked team and finished its regular season at 24-2. Marshall leads the all-time series over SMU, 1-0.
SMU’s team of Marta Lesniak and Aleksandra Malyarschikova are the nation’s 28th-ranked team, while the pair of Natalia Bubien and Pavi Francis is No. 74. In singles, the Mustangs’ freshman Lesniak is ranked 60th, while teammate Malyarschikova stands at No. 110.
Tulsa is the nation’s 38th-ranked team and finished its regular season at 21-4. The Golden Hurricane leads the all-time series over the Herd, 2-0.
Tulsa’s pair of Alexandra Kichoutkin and Marta Marcinkowska is the nation’s 84th-ranked duo.
If the Herd faces either UAB or ECU, it will be first-time meetings between the two schools.
Also in Marshall’s bracket are seventh seed UCF and No. 10 seed Tulane. The all-time series with UCF is tied at 2-2, while the Herd has never faced Tulane.
UCF’s duo of Jenny Frisell and Elvira Serrot stand at No. 55 in the latest doubles rankings.
“We are ready for the tournament and have been working hard,” senior Karolina Soor (Lindesburg, Sweden) said. “We hope to go out and win the championship.”
Schmitt, ranked 76th, finished the season as the Herd’s top singles player with a 20-3 record at the No. 1 position. Sophomore transfer Catherine Kellner (Smithtown, N.Y.) followed with a 17-5 record.
Keener went 11-10 overall, while Soor finished at 14-8. Also in singles competition, Deanna Bailey (McDonough, Ga.) went 10-9 overall, whileIsabell Raich (Klaus, Austria) finished at 9-14.
The Herd’s senior team of Schmitt and Soor went 16-5 overall, with wins over top opponents from Kentucky and Virginia Tech. With the doubles victory over the University of Pittsburgh last weekend, Schmitt became the Herd’s top career doubles victories leader.
Keener and Bailey finished the regular season at 8-9, while Kellner and Thaddea Lock (Bristol, England) went 3-3 overall.
“The pressure is on us to play well and put a full match together,” Coach Mercer added. “We have the capabilities to put together a complete match at the championship and win the title.”
Complete brackets and updates on the C-USA championship are available at www.conference.com or through the women’s tennis page at herdzone.com. Live stats can be viewed through Rice’s Web site at Riceowls.com.
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