Cougars Compete in National Indoor Championship

The BYU women's tennis team heads to Madison Wis. to compete among the top 16 teams in the nation. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

PROVO -- For its seventh appearance in school history, the No. 45 BYU women's tennis team will join the top 15 other schools in the nation this week as it competes in the USTA/ITA National Women's Team Indoor Championship in Madison, Wis., February 5-8. The University of Wisconsin will host the championship.

In their best appearance in the Team Indoor Championship, the Cougars finished in the quarterfinals [1989 and 1996] respectively. The Cougars hold an 8-10 overall record in their last six appearances.

BYU earned its spot among the nations top 16 teams in November of 2003 when it defeated the Universities of Denver and Oklahoma in the ITA Central Regional Playoff 6-1 and 4-2.

The Cougars will begin the opening round by facing off against the third-ranked California Golden Bears Thursday at 9 a.m. in the A.C. Nielsen Tennis Stadium.

Head Coach Craig Manning on the Championship

"We have made some really smart changes in our doubles teams. Hadley [Macfarlane] and Barbora [Zahnova] are playing well together. That was a good move. Against Washington last week, we put Olga [Boulytcheva] in with Sofia Holden. Olga and Sofia played perfect together. They were a good team. And, Pikey [Rebecca Pike] and Lu [Oswald] also have a smooth rhythm when they play."

"I think we can beat some of the teams this week, but we have to play our best. If we get the doubles points early, that will give us confidence to build on. In singles, the girls are all playing really tough, but as we saw against Washington, we can all do better. As a team, we are really strong. I have a lot of confidence in our team heading into this tournament. We just have to stay tough."

The History

Stanford leads the field with a flawless 16-0 first round play in the USTA/ITA. BYU has a first round record of 2-4 where its first opponent [California] holds a record of 7-5 in first round play. Top-seeded Stanford and host Wisconsin are the only schools to have played in all 16 previous USTA/ITA National Team Indoor Championships. BYU has never been a top finalist in the Championship.

Players to watch for:

For the sixth straight year the No. 1-ranked player in the nation will be in Madison, and for the second straight year it is Georgia's Agata Cioroch. 20 of the top 50 ranked players in the nation will be in Madison. This year's tournament also boasts the singles champions from the last four national tournaments: Cioroch ('03 and '02 ITA National Indoor), Stanford's Amber Liu (2003 NCAAs) and California's Raquel Kops-Jones ('03 Riviera/ITA All-American). Six of the top 10-ranked doubles teams will also be on hand, including Northwestern's top-ranked Cristelle Grier and Jessica Rush.

Where the Cougars stand:

Over half of this year's field comes from the Pac-10 or SEC. By winning last year's title Duke became the first school from outside the Pac-10 or SEC to win the title. The Big Ten has Wisconsin and Northwestern in this year's field. Northwestern has joined the Badgers at the USTA/ITA each of the past four years. This year's conference count is as follows: Pac-10 -- 5; SEC -- 4; Big 10 -- 2; Big 12 -- 1; Ivy -- 1; Mountain West -- 1; Colonial Athletic Assoc. -- 1; and ACC -- 1.

How the matches are scored:

In all collegiate tennis dual matches, three doubles matches consisting of the first team to win eight games will open play. Whichever team wins a majority of these matches scores one team point. Six two-out-of-three set singles matches, each counting as one team point, follow. Whichever team gets to four points first, wins the dual match. In Madison this week, the singles matches will be put on three at a time, since four team matches are being played on four courts.