The Washington State University Cougars were small in number, but their presence and positive attitude as a team were huge in their success at TOC Nationals.
© Fred Mullane/Camerawork USA
By Sarah Houseknecht, special to USTA.com
CARY, N.C. -- When Washington State University (WSU) got the opportunity to make the cross-country trip to Cary, N.C. for USTA Tennis On Campus National Championship, they vowed that they wouldn’t pass it up.
For the first time, the Cougars were in the hunt for a national title.
WSU joined Columbia University, Davidson College, Purdue University, Tulane University and University of Cincinnati this week as first-time qualifiers for the national tournament.
"We didn’t know we were in until about one month out. (Portland State) dropped out, and we got a chance," said senior Mark Mettler. "We hadn’t budgeted enough money to send more than the minimum, so we came with four players. We couldn’t pass on the chance to represent our school at Nationals. This is the first opportunity our club has had to do anything like this."
Mettler, joined by his teammates Mylene Gueneron, Kimberly Selph and Kyle Christensen, explained the club tennis team has about 60 members on campus. Next season, according to Mettler, WSU plans on making the tournament and prepare to send at least six players.
"It’s tough with just four. This is probably the most tennis the four of us have played in a short amount of time, ever." said Christensen, as he stretched his sore legs. "But the weather alone has been worth it. Last week we were playing in frost. Cary Tennis Park is a beautiful facility and the event has been a ton of fun."
The Cougars advanced to the Copper division after pool play. Before falling to Georgetown, the modest club of four was able to get a win over Stony Brook 25-20. They also managed to stay competitive with UC Irvine, a difficult feat considering most clubs bring the maximum 10 players to Nationals.