Despite battling injuries all season long, women’s tennis is fighting until the end

Redshirt sophomore Natsumi Kurahashi prepares to hit the ball during a doubles match against Houston on April 1. Houston won the match, 6-0. (Mia Hennen / The Sunflower)

Injuries have plagued the Shocker Women’s tennis team this season, competing shorthanded in six of its 19 matches. But despite competing without their full roster, WSU has continued to fight to the finish line.

With only seven players on the roster and injuries to Bianca Rademacher and Dohee Lee, the Shockers have had to forfeit doubles and singles matches during those six matches. In the six matches they have been shorthanded, WSU is 1-5, with four of the five losses coming in AAC play.

The Shockers are 0-6 against AAC opponents this season, including a 5-2 loss to Houston last Friday. WSU ended their eight-match losing skid on Wednesday, wrapping up their home schedule with a 5-1 victory over Emporia State.

“We’ve been fighting injuries all season so certainly record and results wise hasn’t been what we set out for,” Head Coach Colin Foster said. “The team has kept a positive attitude through it all so to be able to come out and have a positive result is always important. It helps remind them that they’re doing a lot of things well and they’re doing it the right way.”

In Wednesday’s match against ESU, the Shockers won both of their doubles matches, securing the doubles point for the first time since Feb. 18 against Oral Roberts. In the singles matches, all five Shockers picked up victories in two sets.

Sophomore Jessie Zheng and graduate student Lingwei Kong high five after a successful set against Houston on April 1. (Mia Hennen / The Sunflower)

Foster said he’s proud of how the players have continued to persevere through this adversity, despite the limited results. 

“Super proud of each and every one of them,” Foster said. “No excuses, they’ve faced this adversity head on and in sports and in life you’re going to have challenges. It builds character to face those and get knocked down sometimes over and over and keep getting back up and that’s what this group has done.”

After shifting around from the No. 3-5 spots in the Shocker lineup last year, redshirt sophomore Natsumi Kurahashi has provided some stability at the top spot for this season’s team. Kurahashi is 7-7 while competing at No. 1, including a straight set win (6-1, 6-0) on Wednesday against ESU.

“She’s someone who started to build confidence last season in the middle of the lineup and then in the fall just continued getting better,” Foster said. “She’s become much more aware of how to use all her tools. She can slice the ball well, come to the net well, she can play power tennis, she can play a bit safer. She’s got a good variety, which at the top position, you need that.”

The Shockers will wrap the regular season this Sunday against Missouri-Kansas City, before traveling to Tulsa, Oklahoma for the conference championship which is set to start next Wednesday. 

“Every time we step on the court, they’re playing to win,” Foster said. “While we haven’t had many wins lately, sometimes you need a little reminder that we’ve got really good players and unfortunately we just haven’t been able to all click on the same day enough this season but that doesn’t mean that we don’t believe that we can create more winning results.”