Cossou Could Return to Singles Play as Bears Host Oregon, Pepperdine

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Between multiple team illnesses and No. 25 sophomore Marina Cossou's foot injury in the past month, one might assume the Cal women's tennis team would be hitting a rough patch.

But the No. 8 Bears have established quite the contrary, hitting nothing but match-clinching tennis balls to earn their No. 3 spot in the Pac-10, falling just short of USC and Stanford.

Cal (14-4, 5-1 in the Pac-10) hosts Oregon (9-9, 1-4) in a noon match tomorrow and Pepperdine (9-9) at noon on Sunday. Both matches will be held at the Hellman Tennis Complex.

With the conference title still up for grabs, there could not be a better time for Cossou to work her way back into singles play.

"I won't know about Marina until (tomorrow)," Bears coach Amanda Augustus said. "I think she has been progressing really well. The odds are pretty good that we'll get her back out on the singles courts this weekend."

Cossou's return in singles could benefit Cal for its last three regular-season matches, facilitating its chance to lead the Pac-10.

"It would be great to play our full lineup for the first time in a while," Augustus said. "That could be really exciting, so I am just keeping my fingers crossed that it all keeps going well over the next few days and (Cossou) keeps improving like she has been."

Regardless of their lineup, the Bears are learning how to mentally overcome the initial loss of a doubles point to stay focused and win the match, like they did against Arizona State.

"Last weekend allowed us to gain confidence because we really finished the weekend well," senior Claire Ilcinkas said. "It was good teamwork, and we are ready to do it again this weekend."

Considering overall records, Cal should have little trouble in this weekend's competition against the Ducks and the Waves. Ranked seventh in the Pac-10, Oregon has never defeated the Bears in the teams' 16 meetings.

"I think both will be good matches for us," Augustus said. "Oregon is not as deep as we are, but they have some good players at the top of their lineup."

Pepperdine, meanwhile, has dealt with some team adversity in its recent matches.

"Pepperdine is a little better than their ranking at the moment," Augustus said. "They've had a couple girls who have been hurt, but it will be a good opportunity to get matches in and stay sharp."

The coach's push for improvements in doubles has put the Bears right where they want to be at the end of the season-and just a weekend away from the Stanford match.

"Now we have the doubles teams, and as long as we keep everyone in one piece, we will be playing with them," Augustus said. "We'll continue to get better with more practice and match play rather than having to switch around so much due to injury or illness."


Contact Lauren Bachelis at [email protected]

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