Head Coach Tom Morris
April 17, 2012
GREENVILLE, N.C. - The Lady Pirates will try to make it five first-round wins in a row when the 2012 Conference USA Women's Tennis Championship Tournament opens Thursday in Memphis, Tenn.
Eighth-seeded East Carolina and No. 9 UAB will square off in opening-round action, marking the first meeting between the two teams since the league's 2009 postseason event. However, unlike the 4-3 Lady Pirates' victory at Rice's Jake Hess Stadium in Houston, this meeting will take place at the Dunavant-Wellford Tennis Center beginning at 11 a.m. (ET).
Other first-round battles Thursday include No. 5 Marshall vs. No. 12 UTEP (11 a.m.), No. 7 UCF vs. No. 10 SMU (3 p.m.) and No. 6 Houston vs. No. 11 Southern Miss (3 p.m.). No. 1 Tulsa, No. 2 Rice, No. 3 Tulane and No. 4 Memphis all earned opening-round byes.
Veteran head coach Tom Morris has guided the young Lady Pirates to a 9-15 regular season record this spring. Prior to the 2012 campaign, he helped ECU produce the top six single-season win totals in school history over the last seven years - a 17-9 mark in 2005, back-to-back school-record 19-9 and 19-10 finishes in 2006 and 2007, a 17-6 ledger in 2008, an 18-10 standing in 2010 and an 18-9 clip in 2011.
Lone senior Natalie Collins, who has played at the top of East Carolina's lineup for the majority of the season, leads the Lady Pirates with 11 victories in 23 singles matches. Juniors Yilian Zhang (9-14) and Danielle Terpko (9-13), along with sophomore Renata Bakieva (9-12), each have posted nine wins. Collins and Bakieva have also played a key role in ECU's doubles efforts, recording a squad-best 7-8 pairs mark.
ECU, which has produced an 11-12 ledger in 10 previous C-USA Tournament appearances, will also try to surpass its top finish of fifth place accomplished in 2003, 2006 and 2008. The Lady Pirates have captured at least one victory in eight of the 10 tourneys, with a program-best three triumphs in 2003.