Women’s tennis moves on in conference tournament
The women’s tennis team’s quest to win back-to-back Mountain West Conference Championships is still alive.
The Rebels won their 13th straight opening-round game Wednesday in Fresno, Calif. in dominating fashion. Not a single match reached a third set, as UNLV knocked Air Force (13-8) from the tournament by a score of 4-1.
UNLV improved its record in the event to 27-10 all-time thanks to great doubles play and solid matches at the top of its rotation.
The Rebels cruised through doubles play to take the early lead. Aleksandra Josifoska and Iren Kotseva defeated the Falcons’ duo of Anastasia Hueffner and Marcelli Magday 8-5 on court three to start things off.
Lucia Batta and Santa Shumilina sealed the doubles point in the Rebels favor with their win over Natasha Rizvi and Mary Meyers by the same score.
Batta, No. 75 in the country in singles, swept Air Force’s Tiffany Tran (6-1, 6-1) to improve her overall record this year to an impressive 26-9 for her 120th career victory.
Batta still trails the all-time leader Marianne Vallin, who set the record in 1997, by five wins.
Her dominating performance on court one was matched by Josifoska on court two. Josifoska took out Meyers in straight sets (6-1, 6-2). The senior finished her regular season conference career last week with a 26-1 record.
Freshman Paola Artiga stepped up in the biggest moment of her young collegiate career by winning the match-clinching point on court five. Artiga downed Lily Forlini in straight sets (6-1, 6-3) end the match.
The win improves Artiga’s season record to 14-9, good enough for fourth best on the squad behind only Batta, Josifoska and Shumilina.
UNLV now has a date with top-seeded Fresno State (13-8) on Friday at 10 a.m. Fresno State earned the No. 1 seed after finishing 5-0 in conference play, including its 4-3 win over UNLV on March 30.
The Bulldogs not only have the advantage of being the host team, but they finished the season ranked No. 72 in the nation, led by sophomore sensation Sophie Watts — ranked 66th in singles.
Batta edged out Watts (6-1, 5-7, 6-1) on court one in the first meeting, and Josifoska took care of business on court two. The Bulldogs’ depth caused problems for UNLV. Fresno State won the doubles point as well as the points on courts four, five and six.
If UNLV advances, the semifinals will be played Saturday, and the Mountain West Conference Championship will be played on Sunday at 10 a.m.