No one is monitoring the weather forecast for Clemson more closely than College of Charleston women's tennis coach Angelo Anastopoulo. His biggest fear is that the Cougars' first-round NCAA tournament match at 1 p.m. today against the Tigers could be forced indoors because of inclement weather.
"It's a different game," said Anastopoulo, whose team lost at Clemson indoors at the beginning of the season. "It's forecast to be 90 degrees, which I think favors us. However, there is a 30 percent chance of rain. We're keeping our fingers crossed. It will be a more difficult match if we're playing indoors."
This is the second straight NCAA tournament appearance for the Cougars. They advanced last year by winning the Southern Conference tournament, and this year Charleston was undefeated (10-0) in the conference and won the league tournament. The Cougars are 20-9 overall. Clemson, ranked No. 9, is 22-5 and 9-2 in the ACC. The other half of the bracket has Georgia facing Harvard.
The Cougars will be playing two seniors in singles (No. 1 Holly Dowse and No. 5 Laura Borza), three juniors (No. 2 Emma Hayman, No. 4 Kinsey Casey and No. 6 Keely Mulligan) and one sophomore (No. 3 Caroline Newman). In doubles, Dowse and Hayman, ranked 37th nationally, are at No. 1, Casey and freshman Irene Viana are at No. 2, and senior Anna Lee Evans and Borza are playing No. 3.
Anastopoulo said he is using the Cougars' losing streak to Clemson as a motivational tool.
"We've lost to them 12 years in a row," he said. "But the last time we played them outside we lost four matches to three. It came down to the last match. We have a chance against them outside."
He said the team's goal during last year's NCAA tournament meeting with Florida was simply to win a match.
"We won in singles and doubles, so we met that goal," Anastopoulo said. "We want to win an overall team match. We've played Clemson and some of the matches were close. (Our players) know what to expect. We'll have to play well against them to have a chance."