After narrowly missing out on making the team tournament, Washington is sending a few individual participants to the NCAA men’s and women’s singles and doubles tournament at Wake Forest.
No. 16 Junior Stacey Fung is playing in the singles tournament for the second year in a row after making it to the second round last season. Senior Miki Kobayashi is ending her career at the UW with her second trip to the doubles tournament alongside freshman Vanessa Wong. Wong is also playing in the singles tournament.
Having that past experience will likely play a key factor for the Huskies this week.
“I think that experience is really important,” head coach Robin Stephenson said. “Obviously it is going to help Vanessa a lot to have a couple of upperclassmen who have been there before and know what to expect. I think any time you’re going to the NCAA Tournament there are some nerves involved and I think having the experience and having been there before will help them.”
With only having to work with just the three players, the coaching has been much more individualized to fit each player’s needs and areas of focus.
“We have put in a lot of work over these last few weeks, and we have been able to work on some specific things individually for each of them,” Stephenson said. “We don’t have a lot of time to do that during the season, so it has been good the last couple weeks to make some improvements.”
The playing style will be a bit different for each player without having that team aspect that they usually do. Luckily, they have a small team in their own right and have previous experience with this kind of thing.
“It is nice that three of us are going this time,” Fung said. “It is for sure different now that it is tournament format rather than a dual match. It is similar to how we play in the fall, so it is going back to that. Hopefully, they will be on the sidelines and not be playing at the same time, and we will cheer each other on.”
The break the team has gotten has been an excellent reset opportunity and a potential advantage over other teams that played in the team tournament.
“I think that is kind of an advantage we would have over other schools who played in the team tournament,” Wong said. “After our season we have had the last two weeks to reflect and work on things that we needed to, and I think we feel ready.”
The Huskies will have to be up and ready to go early as Wong plays No. 25 Emma Davis at 8 a.m. EST and Fung is closely behind at 9:30 a.m. against No. 32 Rosie Johanson. The time for the doubles match has not been announced yet, but the No. 27 duo of Huskies will face off against No. 26 Mariana Gould and Katarina Jokic from Georgia on Thursday.
Reach reporter Kyle Gehler at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @KyleGehler