“We have to train ourselves to have a championship voice, championship walk, and championship attitude.”

These words by Kathy Twist, head coach of UB’s women’s tennis team, are ones she wants her girls to live by as the Mid-American Conference Tournament approaches this weekend.

One player who has certainly bought in is Denise Harijanto. The junior from Jakarta, Indonesia has embraced this year's new role as the team’s No. 1 singles player.

“It is a challenge and opportunity,” Harijanto said. “I have to step up and be a leader on and off the court.”

Harijanto, who has already tied a career high with 21 wins, is confident heading into the conference tournament. Much of this confidence stems from a recent victory over Western Michigan’s Kerstin Pahl, the two-time defending MAC player of the year.

“It was a definite boost, not just for me, but for the enitire team,” Harijanto said.

The boost for the team came in a 4-3 overall victory over a Western Michigan squad which had not suffered a regular season MAC loss since 2004. The Broncos have also ended UB’s season two of the past three years in the MAC Tournament. The Bulls got their revenge last year, but that hardly means they’ll walk though this season.

“Ever since the first final we lost to them, we’ve been aiming to beat them,” Harijanto said.

With a huge win like this coming so close to the end of the season, Harijanto doesn’t want the team to take anything for granted. She has one message she plans to give prior to the start of th Bulls’ title defense.

“Never underestimate anyone,” Harijanto said. “We must play everyone as if they’re as good as Western Michigan.”

The Bulls won’t have the luxury of home-court advantage this year, but Twist doesn’t think that’s significant.

“Wherever we are, we must prove that we are MAC champs,” Twist said.

With a 6-2 league record, UB will be the No. 2 seed and a quarterfinal matchup against No. 7 seed Eastern Michigan looms. UB defeated the Eagles in their only regular season contest by a 7-0 score. This will start UB’s first title defense in school history, and everyone seems ready for the challenge.

Coach Twist believes this unit will stick together no matter what happens.

“The team is very close,” Twist said. “They hang out outside (of tennis), and it makes it easier for me to coach. They’ve bonded together, and want to help each other improve. They want to make it happen for themselves.”

The one thing Twist needs her team to bring over the weekend to be successful is a fire.

“We must have more fire than the other team,” Twist said. “We have to play with winner’s intensity. You always have to go in confident. That’s 50 percent of the battle.”