May 23, 2012

 
By Andrew Gilman | SoonerSports.com
 
NORMAN, Okla. -- Normally caught in the act surrounded by a cast of teammates, two Sooners now have the spotlight solely on their efforts.

Whitney Ritchie and Marie-Pier Huet are seeking claim on one of the national titles that will be on the line at the NCAA Tennis Championships this week.

Consider it a new experience for the duo that will be one of 32 doubles pairs competing in the tournament Thursday in Athens, Ga. Huet and Ritchie open against Miami’s Melissa Bolivar and Liat Zimmerman at 9 a.m. Central.

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"This season has been rocky," Ritchie said. "We thought maybe we'd get in as a team, but we didn't. We've tried to block that out. You have to get over it and move past it."

The Sooners qualified for the team championships in 2011, getting to the second round. This year, the team fell a bit short, but Huet and Ritchie qualified as a doubles tandem.

"It's definitely something new," said Ritchie, who had a phenomenal sophomore season in 2012, named to the All-Big 12 team. Ritchie was 16-6 in singles at the No. 1 position. "Last year, none of us made it as individuals, so to do this is pretty cool. I'm sad about the team aspect, but we have to focus on us now."

Huet, a senior, was also an All-Big 12 performer for her performance in doubles.

"I was expecting to be there as a team," Huet said, "but I'm excited to be there in doubles. We've been practicing a lot the last few days and trying to believe we can be as good as anyone else out there."

The duo went 16-6 this year in doubles. They have been ranked in the top-40 nationally all year and finished third in the Big 12 this season, wrapping up their Big 12 year with a doubles win over No. 13 Baylor in the second round of the conference tournament. In the fall, the duo won the ITA Central Regional Championship and advanced to the round of 16 at the indoor nationals.

"It will be different without our teammates there, but I'm excited," Ritchie said. "We just have to stay positive with each other. We've done a great job all season, so I don't see it changing any time soon."