Women's Tennis: Lobos Have High Hopes For Southern Road Trip
UPCOMING - Perhaps the toughest non-conference match-ups of the year await the Lobos in the southern U.S. this week. UNM will travel to No. 20 South Alabama on Thursday, March 13 for a 1:30 match and will face No. 23 Virginia Commonwealth at 9 a.m. on Friday, March 14. New Mexico will finish out competition on Sunday, March 16. at 10:30 a.m. against No. 34 Tulane. So far, the Lobos have earned an overall record of 8-3 and will face their first Mountain West Conference opponent of the season, San Diego State, on March 20.
LAST WEEKEND AT HOME After a third place showing at the UNLV Invite at the beginning of March, UNM looked to improve its already flawless 3-0 home record and get wins against rivals New Mexico State and regional foeTulsa last weekend at the Lobo Tennis Club. All three goals were attained as the Lobos furthered their home court record to 5-0 and went on to beat both New Mexico State and No. 53 Tulsa by 4-3 scores.
Singles No. 1: Maja Kovacek was unable to get a win under her belt against either New Mexico State or Tulsa this weekend. She fell 7-5, 6-2 to NMSU’s Stella Veerman and 6-3, 7-6, 6-1 to No. 8-ranked Alicia Pillay of Tulsa. The freshman’s record stands at 4-4.
No. 2: Tjasa Suvak, like her freshman teammate, also suffered two losses at one of UNM’s top singles positions. Against the Aggies, Suvak dropped a 6-1, 6-2 match to Lejla Porobic. The Golden Hurricanes’ Alexsandra Durska also proved to be a tough competitior as she went on to beat Suvak 6-3, 6-3. The two losses bring Suvak to 4-4 at No. 2.
No. 3: Sandy Lukowski was UNM’s most solid singles player this past weekend. She went 2-0, gaining wins over NMSU’s Isabelle Mignot, 6-1, 6-3, as well as Tulsa’s Tiffany Smith, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4. Lukowski is now 2-2 at No. 3 spring singles.
No. 4: UNM’s No. 4 singles position was occupied by both Tiffany Robertson and Michelle Heidbrink. Robertson matched up with the Aggies’ Wendy Van Beusekom and was defeated 6-4, 6-4. Heidbrink could not get a win over Tulsa’s Daniela Muscolino and eventually fell to the Golden Hurricane player, 6-3, 6-2. Robertson and Heidbrink hold 6-3 and 1-1 records respectively at No. 4.
No. 5: Heidbrink and Maria Ruiz-Fabrega shared time at the fifth spot last weekend. Both were victorious as Heidbrink defeated Kate Hodge of New Mexico State and Ruiz-Fabrega downed UT’s Donata Majauskaite, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. Heidbrink improved to 1-1 at No. 5, while Ruiz-Fabrega upped her record to 1-3.
No. 6: Ruiz-Fabrega and Hatley split their weekend at the No. 6 spot. Ruiz-Fabrega had little trouble with the Aggies’ Sandra Mayr who she dropped in two sets, 6-1, 6-0. Hatley had a similar time, beating Tulsa’s Timberly Greenley, 6-1, 6-1. Ruiz-Fabrega has the best spring singles record of 6-0 at the sixth spot. Hatley is 2-3.
Doubles No. 1: Suvak and Kovacek split their matches last weekend. The duo defeated Migot and Mayr of NMSU, 8-3, but then lost 8-4 to the No. 30 pair of Pillay and Durska from Tulsa. The pair’s doubles record is 6-5 this spring.
No. 2: The pairs of Lukowski and Robertson and Heidbrink and Robertson both competed at the second position. The first duo lost to the Aggie pair of Veerman/Porobic, 8-6. The second two were victorious, 8-5, over Golden Hurricanes Barrios and Majauskaite, 8-5.Lukowski and Robertson have not had much luck at No. 3 and hold an 0-3 record there. This was the first time Heidbrink and Robertson had played at No. 2.
No. 3: Ruiz-Fabrega and Hatley stayed at No. 3 the entire weekend and excelled there compiling a 2-0 record to add on to their already perfect 3-0 mark. The two beat the tandem of Van Beusekom/Hodge of NMSU, 8-4 and went on to defeat Buhagiar and Muscolino of Tulsa, 8-2.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION
SOUTH ALABAMA JAGUARS No. 20 USA has dominated almost all of its opponents this season so far and has a 9-2 dual-match record to show for it. The Jaguars have beaten Troy State, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Florida International, Alabama, Ole Miss, Fresno State, Mississippi State and Virginia Tech. South Alabama’s seven-game winning streak was broken on March 1st when the squad lost 6-1 to Clemson.
No. 34-ranked Viktoria Stoklasova is 8-3 in singles at USA’s No. 1 and 2 spots. Her biggest wins came over No. 17 Lindsay Dawaf of Florida and No. 24 Mira Radu of Ole Miss. In the Green Wave Tournament, hosted by Tulane in January, Stoklasova beat No. 15 Julie Smekodub of Tulane.
The No. 1 doubles team of Stoklasova and Katarina Palenikova is 7-3 in dual-match competition, losing only to ranked doubles teams from Georgia Tech, Clemson and Ole Miss.
VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH RAMS The 23-ranked Rams have gone unbeaten this season. The team has had 10 straight wins over East Tennessee State, Norfolk State, George Mason, East Carolina, Old Dominion, NC State, Penn, Virginia, Tulsa and Southern Methodist.
Top VCU singles player, Barbora Zahnova, boasts a 16-0 overall record. She is ranked 80th in the Feb. 26 I.T.A. rankings. Zahnova and doubles partner Silvia Urickova have compiled a 9-2 record which has helped them gain their No. 57 national ranking. No. 2 seeded Beatriz Cabrera is tied for No. 123 in the nation for singles.
TULANE GREEN WAVE No. 34 Tulane has recorded, to date, a 9-1 record and is 2-0 in Conference-USA play. The Green Wave’s eight-game winning streak was halted by No. 69 Arkansas on March 5. The team has beaten Southern University-Baton Rouge, Southern Miss, Florida State, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Rice, SMU, Tulsa, and Texas Christian.
Tulane has three players ranked in the nation: No. 15 Julie Smekodub, No. 50 Jenny Kuhn and No. 78 Erika Valdes. Smekodub, only a freshman, has compiled a 24-7 overall singles record and is 18-4 with doubles partner Jenny Kuhn, which was good enough to earn the pair a No. 6 national ranking.
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.’s Feb. 26 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 is still ranked No. 57 in the nation, but may see its position shift tomorrow, March 12, when the I.T.A. puts out its weekly team rankings.
KUDOS FOR KOVACEK AND ROBERTSON 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.
Lobo sophomore Tiffany Robertson was also awarded Player of the Week honors by the MWC (March 5). The New Zealand native went 3-0 at the UNLV Invite in early March, getting wins against Loyola Marymount, No. 44 Oklahoma and No. 75 CSU-Northridge.
She is 4-2 against ranked opponents this spring, with wins over Denver’s Stephanie Ginsburg, Kansas’ Christine Skoda, Oklahoma’s Bethany Griffin and CSU-Northridge’s Olga Yepremian.