Considering how the regular season unfolded, it would be understandable if the Colorado women's tennis team was less than thrilled about this week's Pac-12 championships.

In reality, the Buffs are eager to take another shot at their conference foes.

The Pac-12 championships take place today through Sunday in Ojai, Calif.

"I'm excited because I've played a lot of these players and I feel more comfortable playing against them and I think I've improved," said sophomore Kristina Schleich, CU's top singles player.

CU finished 0-10 in its inaugural Pac-12 season. The combined score of those losses was 64-6, with seven of the losses coming by 7-0 scores. Yet, CU is banking that the experience of going against the top conference in the country will eventually help it get better.

"I think so," Schleich said. "If you always play against them, you somehow get on a level like them."

There's no question CU will get tested against top-notch talent this weekend, as nine of the other 10 teams (Oregon State does not have women's tennis) are ranked among the top 66 nationally. UCLA is No. 1, with USC (No. 4), Stanford (No. 5) and California (No. 10) also in the top-10.

The tournament is set in an individual format, not a team format, so it will be different from the regular season. There is a 32-player draw in singles and a 16-team draw for doubles for the conference titles. The winner of each draw earns automatic qualifying spots for the nationals. In addition to the championship draws, there will be invitational draws, giving more players a chance to compete.


With 27 players ranked among the ITA's top-125, including four of the top six, CU isn't likely to get an NCAA berth. In addition, 11 doubles teams are ranked among the ITA's top 90, including four of the top nine. Still, it's valuable court time that the Buffs are anticipating.

"It'll be a great opportunity to watch a lot of tennis, learn, continue to pick up on what other people are doing," CU head coach Nicole Kenneally said. "It's still a great learning opportunity."

Schleich is hoping some improvement will be evident this week after going through Pac-12 gauntlet all season.

"The first time it was new, playing against all these top players," she said. "Our first four matches were against the top-10 players. It was tough. Once I had been through that, I knew I had improved playing against them."

Her goal this weekend?

"Just play some good matches and win some," she said.

That would be a huge achievement to win a match or two this week. Even if the Buffs don't get any wins, Kenneally hopes the experience pays off for her team, which features just one senior and seven freshmen or sophomores.

"We've got to continue to learn where we are and what we need to do," Kenneally said. "We're looking forward knowing that we do have all underclassmen returning. The sky is the limit.

"We've got the talent, but we've got to do what we need to do to continue to compete."