Women's Tennis: Conference Action Begins This Week In San Diego
UPCOMING - After finishing up their non-conference games last weekend in New Orleans, La., the Lobos will dive into the MWC portion of their schedule this week with matches against No. 30 San Diego State and No. 33 UNLV. UNM will face the Aztecs on Thursday, March 20 at 2 p.m. before taking on the Runnin’ Rebels the next day at 10 a.m. Both matches will be played at the San Diego State Courts.
LAST WEEKEND ON THE ROAD UNM faced a daunting task when it travelled to the southeast last weekend. The No. 52 Lobos had three highly competitive opponents to match up with in No. 20 South Alabama, No. 23 Virginia Commonwealth and No. 34 Tulane. Despite leaving with a 4-2 loss to USA and suffering a pair of 6-1 defeats at the hands of VCU and Tulane, junior Sandy Lukowski excelled at the No. 2 spot. Most notably, Lukowski beat Tulane’s No. 21-ranked Julie Smekodub in two sets on Sunday, March 16.
Singles No. 1: Maja Kovacek had a tough run last week. She was defeated by No. 34 Viktoria Stoklasova of South Alabama, Martina Escobar Martinez of VCU and No. 44 Jenny Kuhn of Tulane.
No. 2: Sandy Lukowski, playing at No. 2 for the first time this spring, only suffered one loss. She fell in two sets to Marlieke Jager of USA, but came back to record two straight wins over players from VCU and Tulane. Lukowski defeated the Rams’ Christina Arribas and in an intensely competititve match, beat the Green Wave’s No. 21 Julie Smekodub.
No. 3: No. 108-ranked Tjasa Suvak found herself in high-calibre ranked company when she was put at the Lobos’ No. 3 position. She defeated South Alabama’s Dominika Nemcovicova, but then dropped two straight to VCU’s No. 83 Barbora Zahnova and Tulane’s No. 70 Erika Valdes.
No. 4: Tiffany Robertson occupied the fourth spot for all three contests last week. The sophomore was unable to get past any of her opponents, dropping three straight to Andrea Kurekova of USA, VCU’s No. 99 Beatriz Cabrera and UT’s Maria Ivanov.
No. 5: Michelle Heidbrink and Maria Ruiz-Fabrega shared the fifth spot on the Lobos’ road swing last week. Against South Alabama, Heidbrink was victorious over Katarina Palenikova but then fell to VCU’s Silvia Urickova. Maria Ruiz-Fabrega tested her luck at No. 4, but was unable to get past Tulane’s Ana Saaibi.
No. 6: Ruiz-Fabrega and Rachel Hatley both spent time at No. 6. Neither one could get a win off, as Ruiz-Fabrega was defeated by Klara Jarova of USA as well as Ana Franco Lopez of VCU. Rachel Hatley lost to Nancy Kockett of Tulane.
Doubles No. 1: The doubles team of Sandy Lukowski and Tjasa Suvak made its debut at the top spot last week. Unfortunately the juniors could not come away with any wins as they lost to No. 29 Urickova/Zahnova of VCU and Ivanov/Kockett of Tulane.
No. 2: Tiffany Robertson and Michelle Heidbrink played at the No. 2 spot against Virginia Commonwealth but fell to the Rams’ Arribas and Cabrera. At No. 2 vs. Tulane, Heidbrink and Tjasa Suvak dropped their match to the Green Wave’s Valdes and Saaibi.
No. 3: The staple No. 3 pair of Maria Ruiz-Fabrega and Rachel Hatley got its first true taste of back-to-back defeats. The pair lost to Franco Lopez and Escobar Martinez of VCU as well as Kuhn and Wood of Tulane.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION
SAN DIEGO STATE AZTECS San Diego State is ranked 23rd in the country and sits at third in the MWC behind leader BYU and second-place team, UNLV. The Aztecs have compiled a 9-3 record, with all three losses coming against Pac-10 schools Cal, USC and Washington. The squad currently holds a four-game winning streak and will play Purdue before it matches up with the Lobos on Thursday.
Silvia Tornier leads the Aztec singles contingent at the No. 1 spot with a 10-7 overall record. She is also 12-3 in doubles with partner Indra Erichsen. The pair’s accomplishments have given it a No. 32 national ranking. The biggest win this spring for the two came over the No. 9-ranked duo from Washington.
SDSU owns a 9-3 series advantage over UNM. Last year in Albuquerque, the Lobos lost 7-0 to the then No. 22-ranked Aztecs.
UNLV RUNNIN’ REBELS UNLV is ranked 33rd in the nation this week, down considerably from last week’s No. 18 ranking, but is still in good enough shape to occupy the conference’s second spot. The team’s record is 8-2 with its only two losses coming against No. 16 Fresno State and recently No. 6 Duke. The Rebels have defeated three ranked teams this spring in No. 75 CSU-Northridge, No. 44 Oklahoma and No. 30 Texas A&M.
2002’s MWC Freshman of the Year, Gyorgyi Zsiros, has played a majority of her spring matches at No. 2 and has accumulated a 12-5 overall record. Senior Paulina Janus is 14-9 at No. 1. Five of her nine losses have come against ranked players.
The doubles team of Agnieszka Abram and Janus is 10-5 overall, getting its biggest win over the No. 2-ranked team from Duke.
UNM is 3-5 against UNLV overall. The No. 16 Rebels came out of Albuquerque last spring with a slight 4-3 win over New Mexico.
LOBOS IN THE RANKINGS Tjasa Suvak continues to be ranked in the nation for her singles performances. According to last week’s I.T.A. individual poll, she stands at No. 108 in the nation.
UNM moved up in the I.T.A. rankings last week from No. 57 to No. 52. The team has maintained its position this week.
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 over Loyola Marymount, No. 44 Oklahoma and No. 75 CSU-Northridge.
She is 4-2 against ranked opponents this spring, beating Denver’s Stephanie Ginsburg, Kansas’ Christine Skoda, Oklahoma’s Bethany Griffin and CSU-Northridge’s Olga Yepremian.
MAKING A MARK IN THE MWC 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.