Women's Tennis Sets Goals High

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
JANUARY 18, 2014
 No. 60 North Texas at No. 34 Oklahoma
 Date & Time  Sunday, Jan. 19, 12 p.m.
 Location  Gregg Wadley Indoor Tennis Pavilion
 Live Scoring  SoonerSports.com
 Tickets  Free Admission
 Program Info  Roster | Schedule

-- The Oklahoma women's tennis team opens its spring season Sunday, Jan. 19, hosting No. 60 North Texas at the Gregg Wadley Indoor Tennis Pavilion at 12 p.m.

OU, ranked No. 34 in the ITA preseason poll, will face 16 teams ranked in the ITA Top 75 in 2014 including No. 12 Alabama.

“Our schedule is very similar to last year in that we do not have any matches where we are a heavy favorite or a big underdog,” head coach David Mullins said. “Every single match will be extremely competitive and there will be no short cuts to success. I have no doubt that our non-conference schedule will prepare us for a run at the Big 12.”

Currently, the Big 12 Conference features seven ranked teams with Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Baylor all holding spots in the Top 30.

“Baylor continues to be the dominant force in the Big 12 but Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech are also very talented,” Mullins said. “Our team knows that they can compete and beat anyone on our schedule. We will be consistent with our preparation no matter who we are playing.”

OU will play nine times in Norman including conference home matches against Texas Tech (March 21), TCU (March 23), West Virginia (April 4), Iowa State (April 6), and OSU (April 19).

Mullins’ squad opens its road schedule on Jan. 26 at the 2014 ITA Indoor Kickoff Weekend in Tuscaloosa, Ala. against No. 35 Ole Miss. OU will also see No. 27 Purdue, No. 28 Tulsa, No. 51 Arkansas and No. 58 Utah away from Norman.

“Ultimately, we are going to have to play better away from home,” Mullins said. “I believe our experiences last year will help us be a little more comfortable in unfamiliar surroundings. We will continue to get tougher away from home as the season goes on.”

The Sooners return seven from their 2013 squad and introduce two freshmen.

“These seven players learned a lot last spring, and I saw them apply a number of those lessons this past fall,” Mullins said. “They really won't be surprised by anything that is thrown their way and they will not underestimate or overestimate anyone on our schedule.”

Headlining OU's returnees are senior Whitney Ritchie and Hermon Brhane. The pair ended the 2013 season ranked No. 9 in the country and earned All-American honors.

Brhane starts the season ranked 106th in the ITA women's singles ratings. Ritchie and fellow senior Mia Lancaster were ranked 50th as a doubles pair.

“Mia and Whitney will start the year at No. 1 doubles so they will have a lot of chances to climb up the rankings in the weeks ahead,” Mullins said. “Hermon started her fall season slowly and ended up getting injured at the end of the semester, so her current ranking does not reflect her true level of play. However it is a good starting point going into the season.”

OU finished sixth in the Big 12 in the 2013 season after falling to Texas in the first round of the tournament. The Sooners reached the NCAA tournament for the third time in four years and fell to Arizona State in the first round.

“My expectations for my teams never change, but the expectations these girls have for themselves this year are very high,” Mullins said. “They have set a number of very tough competitive goals that they have been working hard towards these past couple of years. If they do achieve these goals they would certainly go down as the most successful team in program history. I believe they are capable of achieving a great deal this season and I look forward to helping them on this journey.”



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