EL PASO, Texas – Friday turned out to be déjà vu for the Northern Arizona women's team. For the second consecutive season, the Lumberjacks earned their first victory of the year with UTEP as their victim, as NAU narrowly edged out the Miners, 4-3, Friday afternoon at the El Paso Tennis Club to improve their record to 1-1 this season.
Just as they had last year, the Lumberjacks rebounded from a season opening 7-0 loss to a nationally ranked team, in this case UC Davis two weeks ago, only to knock off the Miners by a 4-3 margin in their second match of the season.
The Lumberjacks started the day off well, winning the doubles point by virtue of wins at No. 2 and 3 in the first two matches. The freshman pair of Hannah Stone and Johanna Vang won their second straight doubles match to begin 2012, defeating Carolina DeLuca and Gabi Vazquez, 8-2. Juniors Ghizelene Doballah and Alice Pacaut followed suit, winning at No. 3 by the same score, clinching the doubles point for NAU before the Lumberjacks dropped the No. 1 match.
"Our doubles wins were outstanding," said director of tennis Kim Bruno. "We came out and executed and got us off to a great start right off the bat. This is a team that we always go back and forth with, so this was a great victory that we can hopefully take with us with the upcoming matches this weekend."
Doballah, playing in her first match of the season, took the victory at No. 1 when UTEP's Martina Trierweiler was forced to retire in the second set after dropping the first set, 7-6, giving NAU a 2-0 lead in the match. After the Miners won the next two matches at No. 5 and No. 2 to even the score at two-all, Vang notched her first career singles victory at No. 4 to put the Lumberjacks back on top. But UTEP responded with a win at No. 6, to set up the winner-take-all point at No. 3.
With the deciding point up in the air, junior Malia Wahinepio sealed up the NAU victory, battling through a first set loss to defeat DeLuca, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5. Wahinepio's first win of the season not only gave NAU it's first win of the season, but it also emphasized the Lumberjacks' effort today considering they only won the first set in one of the six singles matches.
"We had three heroes today," Bruno said. "Johanna, Ghizelene and Malia all stepped up. We were all standing around watching Malia in that third set and she stepped up and clinched the match for us. In singles, for us to come back from being down on each court showed a lot."
NAU now heads to Las Cruces, N.M. for a neutral site match with Air Force tomorrow beginning at 10 a.m. at the NMSU Tennis Center. The match will be the second of three consecutive matches this weekend for the Lumberjacks.
1. Rebeca Calvillo/Martina Trierweiler (UTEP) def. Nicole Perez/Malia Wahinepio (NAU), 8-2
2. Hannah Stone/Johanna Vang (NAU) def. Carolina DeLuca/Gabi Vazquez (UTEP), 8-2*
3. Ghizelene Doballah/Alice Pacaut (NAU) def. Dariya Abdrakhmanova/Marie LeBlond (UTEP), 8-2
*Clinched Doubles Point
Order of Finish: (3, 2, 1)
1. Doballah (NAU) def. Trierweiler (UTEP), 7-6, retired
2. Calvillo (UTEP) def. Stone (NAU), 7-5, 6-1
3. Wahinepio (NAU) def. DeLuca (UTEP), 2-6, 6-4, 7-5**
4. Vang (NAU) def. Vazquez (UTEP), 4-6, 6-1, 6-1
5. Abdrakhmanova (UTEP) def. Perez (NAU), 6-4, 7-6 (7-1)
6. LeBlond (UTEP) def. Pacaut (NAU), 6-3, 7-5
Order of Finish: (1, 5, 2, 4, 6, 3)