Women's Tennis: Home Turf Beckons No. 57 Lobos
UPCOMING - Another tough weekend is in store for the Lobo women’s tennis team. The squad will begin dual-match action at home on Friday, March 7 at 4 p.m. against New Mexico State and will return to the Lobo Tennis Club courts at 11 a.m. on Sunday, March 9 to face No. 53 Tulsa. UNM (6-3) looks to further its 3-0 home court success as well as its 4-3 record against nationally ranked opponents.
LAST WEEKEND AT THE UNLV INVITE The Lobos placed third in the UNLV Invite last weekend in Las Vegas, Nev. After beating Loyola Marymount by a solid 4-1 score on Thursday, UNM then fell, 6-1, in a difficult battle against a strong No. 44 Oklahoma side. In the third place match that took place on March 2, the Lobos overpowered No. 75 CSU-Northridge for a resounding 5-2 victory to seal the third spot.
No.1: No. 75 Tjasa Suvak switched spots with usual No. 1 seed Maja Kovacek for the weekend. Against LMU, Suvak and opponent Edit Pakay did not finish their match due to rain delays. OU’s Anda Perianu, ranked No. 74, overtook Suvak 7-5, 6-0 in the Lobos’ second match of the tournament. Suvak beat CSU-Northridge’s Tereza Simonyan, 3-6, in the first set of the Lobo-Matador match on March 2, but then fell in the next two 6-1, 6-1. Suvak’s record stands at 4-4 this spring.
No. 2: Maja Kovacek had a great deal of success this past weekend, going 2-1 in singles competition. On Thursday against Loyola Marymount the freshman beat Georgie Dinham, 6-1, 6-4 and went on to defeat CSU-Northridge’s Rani Setiawati, 6-2, 7-5 on Sunday. Her only loss was to OU player Elena Jirnova, who edged Kovacek in the tie-breaking set for a final score of 7-6, 4-6, (10-6). Kovacek is 4-2 at No. 1 and 2-1 at No. 2 this spring.
No. 3: Michelle Heidbrink played UNM’s first match of the UNLV Invite at the No. 3 spot and was defeated 6-4, 6-2 by LMU’s Diana Vinis. Sandy Lukowski played for the remainder of the Invite as the third seed and dropped a pair of matches to OU’s Annette Bryntesson, 6-2, 6-4 and CSU-Northridge’s Inga Chilingaryan, 6-4, 6-1. Heidbrink is 0-1 at this position this spring, while Lukowski is 0-2.
No. 4: Tiffany Robertson played two out of three matches at No. 4 last weekend. Against Jennifer Baker of LMU, the sophomore was victorious, 6-3, 6-3 and got another win against Olga Yepremian of CSU-Northridge, 6-3, 7-6. Heidbrink stepped in against OU at the No. 4 spot and lost in two sets, 6-2, 7-6. She is 0-1 at the No. 4 position and Robertson is 6-2.
No. 5: Rachel Hatley and LMU’s Patricia Hubl matched up on Thursday, but did not finish due to rainstorms that halted the contest. Robertson stepped in to the fifth spot against OU and defeated Bethany Griffin, 1-6, 6-2, 6-1. Against CSU-Northridge Heidbrink was flawless at No.5, defeating Brittany Bierman 6-4, 1-6, 6-0. All three are undefeated at this spot with Hatley at 3-0 and Robertson and Heidbrink both at 1-0.
No. 6: Maria Ruiz-Fabrega was a perfect 2-0 in Las Vegas. She earned a resounding win over Erin Sanchez of LMU, 6-0. 6-0, as well as a victory against CSU-Northridge’s YuYu Myinttun, 1-6, 7-6, 6-1. Rachel Hatley dropped her match at the No. 6 spot to Melissa Menieta of Oklahoma, 7-5, 6-4. Ruiz-Fabrega has an outstanding record of 5-0 this spring at No. 6, while Hatley sits at 1-3.
No. 1: Suvak and Kovacek won two of three matches at the UNLV Invite. The duo beat Pakay/Vinis of LMU, 8-3, as well as Simonyan/Chilingaryan of CSU-Northridge, 8-4. The only loss came against Oklahoma’s Perianu and Saluri who dealt the Lobo pair an 8-5 loss. The duo's record stands at 5-4 this spring.
No. 2: Robertson and Heidbrink did not finish their match against LMU’s Baker/Dinham due to rainy conditions. Lukowski and Robertson tried their luck at the No. 2 spot, but were unable to get a win off, falling 8-4 to Bryntesson/Griffin of Oklahoma and 8-6 to Setiawati/Yepremian of CSU-Northridge. The duo is 0-2 in spring competition.
No. 3: The No. 9-ranked central region pair of Maria Ruiz-Fabrega and Rachel Hatley was predictably strong against all three teams last weekend. The duo beat LMU pair Hubl/Sanchez, 8-4, the OU tandem of Jirnova/Brown, 9-7 and CSU-Northridge’s Myinttun/Soltysik, 8-4 to improve its spring doubles record to 6-3.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION
NEW MEXICO STATE The Aggies were ranked No. 68 in the nation following the 2002 season, but have now dropped out of the rankings.
New Mexico State’s record is 4-4 after beating Nevada, Tennessee Tech, NAU and North Texas. The Aggies fell hard to No. 17 UNLV, 7-0, and also lost to Hampton, UT-San Antonio and New Orleans. The team is led by No.1 singles player Stella Veerman as well as Wendy Van Beusekom who is 5-0 at the No. 4 singles position.
Last time the Lobos and Aggies met was at the UNM Fall Invite in November of 2002. New Mexico swept NMSU in both singles and doubles to earn a perfect record against the Aggies.
TULSA The No. 53 Golden Hurricanes currently hold a 5-6 record. Three of the eleven matches played were at the National Indoor Team Championships in January. There, UT lost to Florida and Tennessee, but beat Wake Forest. Other losses have come against Vanderbilt, Oklahoma, Tulane and Virginia Commonwealth, all top-50 teams. The Golden Hurricanes have beaten SW Missouri State, Iowa, Arkansas and LSU.
Tulsa is led by No. 8-ranked Alicia Pillay who is 23-4 overall and 8-4 against ranked opponents. The senior from Pietermaritzburg, South Africa has received WAC Player of the Week twice this spring and is, along with partner Aleksandra Durska, ranked No. 30 in the nation in doubles with a 14-6 record.
LOBOS IN THE RANKINGS Tjasa Suvak has earned her highest career ranking this season. The junior from Belca, Slovenia is currently ranked No. 75 in the I.T.A. national collegiate tennis poll. The last time Suvak was ranked was on Dec. 8, 2002. At that time she was listed at No. 99 in the nation.
The UNM tennis team has kept its No. 57 ranking this week in the I.T.A. polls after getting wins against Loyola Marymount and No. 75 CSU-Northridge this past weekend at the UNLV Invite.
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 sits close behind at No. 11.
KUDOS FOR KOVACEK Freshman tennis sensation Maja Kovacek was awarded her first career MWC Player of the Week accolade on Feb. 19 after she recorded a 2-0 singles record against No. 57 Boise State and No. 40 Washington.
Kovacek is 4-1 against ranked teams this season, suffering her only loss to No.44-ranked Oklahoma’s Elena Jirnova. Her overall fall and spring record stands at 17-4, giving her one of the winningest freshman records in UNM history.
2003 SCHEDULE The Lobo women’s tennis team 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 (#18) and second-place finisher San Diego State (#29) may offer the biggest challenge to the Lobos this year. In addition, BYU (#49) 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 I.T.A.’s rankings. New Mexico will meet up with South Alabama (#20), Virginia Commonwealth (#23) and Tulane (#34)) next week on the road.
The Lobos have already faced No. 75 UT-San Antonio, No. 41 Washington State, No. 67 Boise State, No. 61 Denver, No. 59 Kansas, No. 44 Oklahoma and No. 75 CSU-Northridge.