Women's Tennis: Lobos Travel to El Paso, Texas To Take On UT-San Antonio and UTEP
UPCOMING - The University of New Mexico’s women’s tennis team takes to the courts this weekend down south in El Paso, Texas for matches against the UT-San Antonio Roadrunners and the UTEP Miners. Match times are set for 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. respectively on Sunday, Feb. 2.
SWEEPING THE LUMBERJACKS - The New Mexico women's tennis team started the 2003 season with a bang, recording a 7-0 victory over the visiting Northern Arizona Lumberjacks on Jan. 19 at the Lobo Tennis Club in Albuquerque. The No. 9 regionally ranked duo of Maria Ruiz-Fabrega and Rachel Hatley proved their ability on the court, beating Karen Kmiec and Marjolein Klompmaker by a solid 8-5 mark.
"Today was a great start to our season," said head coach Kathy Kolankiewicz of the dual-match against NAU. "We have been practicing hard for the past few weeks and it has paid off."
UNM's No. 1 seeded team of Maja Kovacek and Tjasa Suvak defeated the Lumberjacks' No. 1 pair of Kirsten Balk and Ashley Dille by an overpowering score of 8-1. The Lobos capped off their doubles dominance with a win at the No. 3 spot from Tiffany Robertson and Michelle Heidbrink. The pair blanked opponents Katie Schurr and Christina Kloquinas 8-0.
In singles action, freshman Maja Kovacek, who earned a No. 7 central region fall ranking, squared off against NAU's Kirsten Balk at the No. 1 spot and defeated her opponent. After the first game going 6-2 in Kovacek's favor, a tie-breaker was required after the two were deadlocked at 6-6 in the second set. Kovacek won a convincing 7-4 game to give her the final 6-2, 7-6 decision. UNM's No. 2 ranked player, Tjasa Suvak handily defeated Karen Kmiec by a score of 6-3, 6-3. Suvak is currently ranked No. 10 in the fall central region rankings.
The Lobos' third singles win of the day came from No. 23 regionally ranked Michelle Heidbrink. Playing at the No. 3 spot for New Mexico, Heidbrink beat NAU's Marjolein Klompmaker 7-6, 6-1.
The final three Lobo singles wins were also decisive. Tiffany Robertson outplayed Julie Schmandt, 6-2, 6-0, while Rachel Hatley was victorious over Katie Schorr in two sets, 6-2, 6-2. The final Lobo victor was sophomore Maria Ruiz-Fabrega. The Albuquerque native defeated Ashley Dille, 6-2, 7-6 to give the Lobos a perfect 7-0 score as well as their first victory of the 2003 season.
LOOKING AT THE COMPETITION - UNM will be UT-San Antonio’s first opponent of the spring season. During the fall, the Roadrunners competed in the Omni Hotels Southwest Championships. The best showing for the squad came from the doubles team of Nicole Bouffler and Svenja Fuhrig. The duo advanced to the quarterfinals before being defeated by a team from Texas Christian. UTSA is currently being led by senior Svenja Fuhrig who plays at the No. 1 singles and doubles spot.
The Roadrunners finished off their 2002 season with a 16-6 record, winning the Southland Conference title with a 4-1 victory over UT-Arlington. They advanced to the NCAA Central Region tennis tournament where they eventually fell to No. 9 Texas.
UTEP comes into the match against New Mexico at 0-2 in 2003. The Miners dropped their season opener, 5-2, to North Texas on Jan. 25. UTEP was then swept, 7-0, by No. 65 SMU on Jan. 27. Kendall Exelby is undoubtedly the Miners’ top player and proved her ability when she was selected to compete at the Fall Desert Collegiate in November. The tournament features 64 of the top players in the NCAA. Exelby fell to UCLA’s Sarah Gregg in her first match of the tournament, leaving her final falls singles record at 11-6.
UTEP finished the 2001-2002 season with a 13-7 record. The team dropped its quarterfinal WAC Tournament match to SMU, ending any hopes of an NCAA berth.
LOBOS IN THE RANKINGS - Several Lobos are listed in the Fall Central Region Rankings, including freshman Maja Kovacek who is seeded at the No. 7 spot, junior Tjasa Suvak at No.10 and sophomore Michelle Heidbrink at No. 23. In doubles, the duo of Rachel Hatley and Maria Ruiz-Fabrega earned the highest Lobo doubles ranking at No. 9, while the pair of Maja Kovacek and Tjasa Suvak sit close behind at No.11.
The UNM tennis team has been given a National Ranking of No. 61. The squad finished off the 2002 season at No. 60 in the national polls and No. 7 in the Central Region.
TJASA’S TALENT - Junior Tjasa Suvak was invited, along with other top NCAA tennis players, to compete in the Riviera All-American Championships in Pacific Palisades, Calif. earlier this fall based on her 2002 performance. She made it past two rounds of competition at the championships before falling to nationally-ranked Catherine Lynch of California in a tough match. The event gave Suvak the chance to compete at an extremely high level with the best collegiate tennis players in the nation.
ACADEMIC ACCOLADES - Last season, seven out of the eight UNM women’s tennis players received spots on the All-MWC Academic Team. The players were Courtney Choate, Tjasa Suvak, Maria Ruiz-Fabrega, Tiffany Robertson, Michelle Heidbrink, Regula Comtesse and Rachel Hatley. Additionally, Suvak, Ruiz-Fabrega and Robertson received MWC Academic Scholar Medals for obtaining a G.P.A. of 3.5 or above.
AWARDS ON THE COURT - UNM’s Tjasa Suvak and Sandy Lukowski were honored with All-MWC singles awards at the conclusion of the 2002 season. Suvak finished the year with a 23-14 singles record while Lukowski went 19-16. The doubles team of Sandy Lukowski and Tiffany Robertson were recognized on the All-MWC doubles team. The duo accumulated a 13-12 record, beating several ranked pairs from the west and central regions.
2003 SCHEDULE - The Lobos can expect stiff competition this spring. Not only do they play the MWC regulars, but UNM will also face a schedule composed of numerous nationally ranked competitors.
The New Mexico squad will square off against its MWC opponents towards the end of the season after several weeks of playing strictly non-conference teams. Reigning MWC title holders UNLV (#20) and second-place finisher San Diego State (#30) may offer the biggest challenge to the Lobos this year. In addition, BYU and Utah will be gunning for a top spot in the MWC.
Almost every non-conference team the Lobos face this spring is ranked nationally according to the ITA’s 2002 year-end rankings. New Mexico will meet up with South Alabama (#26), Virginia Commonwealth (#17) and Tulane (#64)). The Lobos will also take to the court to face Washington State (#29). In addition, the Lobos will match up against Central Region competitors Kansas (#37), Boise State (#53) and New Mexico State (#68).
2003 MWC WOMEN’S TENNIS DUAL MATCH STANDINGS
|San Diego State|0|0|0|1|0|1.000|