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Huskies have golden opportunity against No. 7 Kansas

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Junior Katarina Kopcalic hits a backhand during her singles win match Gonzaga on Feb. 19.

The Washington women’s tennis team is coming off of a strong road trip, and now faces its toughest test to date on Friday, when it hosts a Kansas team ranked No. 7 in the nation. 

The Huskies have performed at a high level over the course of the season, and now hold the top overall record in the Pac-12 at 9-1. Much of their recent success can be attributed to how the players and coaching staff have responded to struggles in some of their tougher matches.

“We had some tough matches, we got through one and lost the other, and it brought us closer together,” junior Katarina Kopcalic said. “We learned what we need to work on in order to be competing against the top-ranked teams.”

The Huskies face one of those top teams this week, in a Kansas squad that has six players currently ranked by the ITA in singles and doubles.

In practice this week, the Washington players have been committed to staying focused, and not letting the importance of the upcoming matchup get in the way.

“There is definitely extra motivation because they are a top-10 team and we obviously want to win, but we like to take it day by day and focus on the process rather than thinking about who we play,” Kopcalic said. “We’ve been focused on emphasizing our serves and returns on the first ball, just making sure to stay aggressive.”

Striking the first ball cleanly will be important for the Huskies because it will prevent the Kansas players from getting into a rhythm and gaining confidence in their strokes. Allowing Kansas to get comfortable and confident, for a team as talented as it is, could be the difference in the match.

The action Friday will begin at 5 p.m.

Reach reporter Caden Conder at sports@dailyuw.com Twitter: @cadenmconder

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