Women's Tennis: Three Game Homestand Awaits Lobos
UPCOMING - The No. 49 Lobo women’s tennis team plays host to conference opponents, Air Force, Utah and No. 57 BYU this week at the Lobo Tennis Club. UNM will take on the Falcons at 3 p.m. on Thursday before facing Utah on Friday at 2 p.m. and BYU on Saturday at 1 p.m.
LAST WEEKEND ON THE ROAD UNM began its conference portion of its schedule last week in San Diego. The Lobos came away 0-2 in the MWC after falling 5-2 to No. 32 San Diego State and a close 4-3 to No. 24 UNLV.
Singles No. 1: Sandy Lukowski occupied the top Lobo singles spot last week, but was unable to find a win. She was defeated by SDSU’s Silvia Tornier and UNLV’s Paulina Janus, whom she shared Player of the Week honors with on March 19.
No. 2: Maja Kovacek and Tjasa Suvak split time at the second position in San Diego. Kovacek dropped her match against the Aztecs Lindsey Hedberg and Suvak lost to 2002 MWC Freshman of the Year, Gyorgyi Zsiros of UNLV.
No. 3: Kovacek and Suvak also played a match each at No. 3. Suvak found success against San Diego State’s Katja Karrento although Kovacek could not get a win off against the Runnin’ Rebels’ Tracie Chong.
No. 4: Tiffany Robertson and Michelle Heidbrink shared the fourth spot. Robertson fell to Katalina Romero of SDSU. Heidbrink got one of only three Lobo singles wins last week over Agnieszka Abram of UNLV.
No. 5: Heidbrink and Robertson also shared time at No. 5. Roles were reversed as Heidbrink fell to Patricia Graf of San Diego State, while Robertson beat UNLV’s Cindy Treber.
No. 6: Maria Ruiz-Fabrega and Rachel Hatley each spent time at the sixth spot. Neither was victorious, as Ruiz-Fabrega fell to the Aztecs’ Indra Erichsen and Hatley dropped her match against Amy Hadziosmanovic of UNLV.
Doubles No. 1: Lukowski and Kovacek were flawless at the top doubles spot in San Diego. The duo topped Tornier and Erichsen of San Diego State and also beat UNLV’s pair of Janus and Abram.
No. 2: The duos of Robertson/Heidbrink and Hatley/Ruiz-Fabrega each played a match at the second spot. Robertson and Heidbrink could not manage a win against Karrento and Hedberg of SDSU. Hatley and Ruiz-Fabrega were a part of the Lobo doubles sweep against UNLV as they beat the Rebel duo of Chong and Treber.
No. 3: The two pairs also had luck at the No. 3 position out west. Ruiz-Fabrega and Hatley beat San Diego State’s Romero and Graf, while Robertson and Heidbrink defeated Hadziosmanovic and Zsiros of UNLV.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION
AIR FORCE FALCONS Air Force is 10-8 overall and 0-2 in conference play, putting them in seventh, a spot ahead of UNM, in the MWC. The Falcons lost 7-0 to San Diego State and 6-1 to UNLV. The biggest win for the squad so far this year was over No. 66 Texas Tech.
The Falcons’ top player, Laura Nigro, has a 12-16 record at No. 1. The junior’s largest triumph came against No. 109 Irina Tereschenko of Texas Tech.
New Mexico is 5-0 all-time against Air Force. Last year, the Lobos swept the Falcons in Colorado Springs, 7-0, and then beat them 4-1 in the first round of the MWC Tournament.
UTAH UTES The Utes have had a tough season so far, losing seven out of their eleven matches to give them sixth place in the MWC ranks. In conference play, Utah is 0-1, losing to BYU 6-1. Wins for Utah have been against Montana State, St Mary’s, Idaho State and Weber State.
Cassie Kastler has spent most of her time at No. 1 and 2 singles positions for the Utes this year. She has a 9-13 record and has suffered two losses to ranked players, No. 76 Anda Perianu of Oklahoma and No. 86 Renate Stoop of Boise State. She also owns a 4-9 doubles record with partner Ellen Svensson at the No. 1 spot.
The Lobo-Ute series record stands at 8-11 in Utah favor. UNM beat Utah in Salt Lake City, 4-3, last season.
BYU COUGARS BYU may prove to be the Lobos’ strongest competitor this weekend. The Cougars are currently ranked No. 57 in this week’s I.T.A. poll, a spot the Lobos occupied for two straight weeks earlier this month. In the MWC, BYU is listed in third place. The Cougars are 6-8 overall and 1-0 in the MWC after beating the Utes 6-1.
BYU’s No. 1 seeded player, Dominique Reynolds, holds a 12-14 singles record and has faced numerous ranked opponents, including No. 3 Vilmarie Castellvi of Tennessee and No. 8 Chloe Carlotti of Fresno State. Lemperle has yet to beat a ranked opponent this year.
Lemperle has had more luck at the No. 1 doubles spot with partner Liza Klempner. The two have a 13-8 record.
Last year was the first time in the history of the women’s tennis program at UNM, that the Lobos have beaten BYU. New Mexico edged the Cougars, 4-3, in Provo. BYU holds a 21-1 series advantage over the Lobos.
LOBOS IN THE RANKINGS Sandy Lukowski received her first career national ranking this week. The I.T.A lists Lukowski at No. 82 following her strong performances against ranked opponents.
UNM moved up in the I.T.A. rankings this week from No. 52 to No. 49. This is the highest ranking this year for the Lobos.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONOREES 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.
Sandy Lukowski is the most recent Lobo to garner Player of the Week honors (March 19). Lukowski was awarded the distinction after beating players from No. 23 Virginia Commonwealth and No. 32 Tulane. The biggest win of the weekend for the junior came against No. 27-ranked Julie Smekodub of Tulane. The victory was undoubtedly the largest of her career and for the Lobos this season so far.