Women's Tennis: Lobos Hope To Steal The Show In San Diego
UPCOMING - The 2003 Mountain West Conference women’s tennis title is on the line and the No. 48 Lobos (14-8, 5-2 MWC) want a shot at upsetting No. 1 and 2-seeded UNLV (30th) and San Diego State (25th). Before getting the chance to match up against either conference powerhouse, second-seeded UNM will have to get past the MWC's sixth seed, Air Force. The Lobos and Falcons face-off at the Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego, Calif. on Thursday, April 24 at 2 p.m.
LAST TIME OUT AT HOME The Lobos made it official last weekend. The team finished the 2003 regular season with an unblemished home-court record of 9-0 after beating the Texas Tech Red Raiders, 6-1. The loss dropped TTU to 3-14 overall, 2-9 Big 12.
Singles No. 1: Maja Kovacek won her fourth straight singles match at No. 1 and her sixth consecutive at one of the top two spots. Kovacek defeated Irina Tereschenko, 6-7. 6-1, 6-3.
No. 2: Sandy Lukowski also won her fourth straight singles match, all of which were recorded at No. 2. The Lobo junior defeated Beverly Dawson, 6-2, 1-6, 6-3.
No. 3: Tjasa Suvak beat TTU’s Kendall Brooks in two quick sets,7-6, 6-3.
No. 4: Michelle Heidbrink had only dropped one of her previous six matches before furthering her winning record to 7-1 by beating Texas Tech freshman Tara Browning, 6-1, 6-2.
No. 5: Tiffany Robertson extended her unbeaten streak to seven when she battled the Albuquerque winds to beat Anchen Lombard, 6-4, 7-5.
No. 6: Rachel Hatley played in her final home collegiate match Saturday vs. Texas Tech. The senior downed Katja Kovacic, 6-2, 6-2 to finalize her regular season singles record at 7-5 at the No. 6 spot.
Doubles No. 1: Despite losing to the duo of Dawson/Tereschenko, the pair of Lukowski and Kovacek finished off the spring doubles season with a 7-3 mark and a national ranking of 55th.
No. 2: Ruiz-Fabrega and Hatley were unable to get past Brooks and Browning of Texas Tech, losing 8-5. The two have a spring record of 7-6 at No. 2 and an overall record together of 20-9 (fall and spring combined).
No. 3: Robertson and Heidbrink were the only Lobo doubles team to get a win over a Texas Tech pair. The two beat Kovacic and Schraml, 8-2, to give them an almost perfect spring record of 12-1 at the third position.
A LOOK AT AIR FORCE Air Force finished off its 2003 regular season with a 15-11 overall record and 2-5 MWC mark. Air Force’s schedule was mostly composed of regional teams out of Idaho and Colorado and also included several Division II squads. In MWC competition the Falcons beat Utah and Wyoming, but fell to San Diego State, UNLV, New Mexico, BYU and Colorado State.
PROBABLE FALCON SINGLES LINE-UP
No. 1: Laura Nigro has spent her entire spring season at the Falcons’ top spot and has compiled a 16-18 singles record there. VS. UNM THIS SEASON: Nigro defeated Sandy Lukowski in a tie-breaking set on March 27, 4-6, 6-0, 7-6 (7-4).
No. 2: Heather Shelby has a 18-16 singles record, earned mostly at the second spot. Her biggest wins were over No. 50-ranked Division II player, Katy Fitzgerald of Colorado Christian and 2002 MWC Newcomer of the Year, Gyorgyi Zsiros of UNLV. VS. UNM THIS SEASON: Maja Kovacek slipped past Shelby, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1.
No. 3: Kat Bushey has been a mainstay for AFA at No. 3, garnering a 17-16 record. She earned one conference win over Alex Paganetti of CSU, but fell to players from the other six MWC schools. VS. UNM THIS SEASON: Bushey fell in three sets to Tjasa Suvak, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.
No. 4: Senior Kelli O’Bryant has a 15-20 record that she has compiled at positions 3-5. She has two conference wins against Utah and Wyoming. VS. UNM THIS SEASON: O’Bryant fell in two sets to Michelle Heidbrink, 6-4, 7-5.
No. 5: Gina Black has the most regular season wins for the Falcons this season with 25. She also recorded the fewest losses (11). Black got wins over three MWC schools, Utah, CSU and Wyoming. Her biggest win of the season was over a 22nd-ranked Division II player from Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.) VS UNM THIS SEASON: Black fell to Tiffany Robertson, 7-5, 6-3.
No. 6: Katie Tomkie split her time between the fifth and six positions, recording a 9-13 spring mark overall. Tomkie had one conference win over Megan Williams of Wyoming. VS. UNM THIS SEASON: Tomkie dropped a two-set match to Maria Ruiz-Fabrega, 6-1, 6-0.
COMMON NON-CONFERENCE OPPONENTS DENVER Lobos - W, 4-3Falcons - L, 6-1 UT-SAN ANTONIO Lobos - W, 4-3Falcons - L, 5-2 TEXAS TECH Lobos - W, 6-1Falcons - W, 5-2 BOISE STATE Lobos - L, 4-3Falcons - L, 5-2
UNM-AFA SERIES RECORD The Lobos hold a 6-0 all-time record over Air Force. UNM faced the Falcons in the first round of the MWC Championships last year as well and defeated them 4-1 in Provo, Utah.
LOBOS IN THE RANKINGS Sandy Lukowski received her first career national singles ranking (82nd) in March. The I.T.A. now lists Lukowski at No. 116.
The doubles team of Lukowski and Maja Kovacek has received a No. 55 national ranking from the I.T.A. as of April 9.
UNM stays at No. 48 in the I.T.A. rankings this week. The team has not fallen out of the top-60 since it was ranked No. 65 on Feb. 19. Since then the Lobos have maintained a ranking of 55th or better.
IN THE BOOKS Tjasa Suvak is tied for 12th all-time at UNM for career singles wins. The junior has 60, which puts her at the same mark as Inger Sanderud who played for the Lobos from 1988-90.
Suvak has also made history with the number of combined career singles and doubles wins she possesses. As of now, she has a total of 110 which puts her in 14th place.
MAJA’S MILESTONE Freshman Maja Kovacek is presently leading the team in singles wins with 23, most of which have been earned at the No. 1 spot. In doubles she has compiled 20 wins, both with partners Tjasa Suvak and Sandy Lukowski, which ties the number the duo of Ruiz-Fabrega and Hatley have earned over the fall and spring seasons.
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. Her overall fall and spring record stands at 22-11, 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.
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.