FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona women's tennis team's search for its elusive first win of the season continues this weekend for a challenging three-match stay in Albuquerque, N.M. beginning Friday. The Lumberjacks will play a pair of neutral site matches against UTEP and Pacific along with a match against host New Mexico following their final week off from competition for the remainder of the spring season.
"This weekend will be just as hard as the weekends we've played earlier this season," said director of tennis Kim Bruno. "I'm looking to see us raise our level of competitiveness and consistency this weekend. It's not going to be easy; we're going to have to play our best 1-6 in singles and 1-3 in doubles, there's no question about that. I know they're hungry for their first W."
The Lumberjacks are 0-4 heading into the weekend, but has played an early season schedule heavy with top-notch competition. After playing two nationally-ranked in-state Pac-12 squads in Arizona and Arizona State as well as a pair of schools from the University of California system in UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara, the Lumberjacks are well-prepared for what is to come this weekend.
Senior Alice Pacaut, playing the No. 5 singles spot in the Lumberjack lineup, has paced NAU thus far with a team-leading 2-2 singles mark. The second-year transfer from Eyguieres, France, is off to an impressive start with three-set victories against Arizona and UC Santa Barbara with one of her two losses also coming in the full three-sets. Along with Pacaut, sophomore Johanna Vang registered a singles victory in NAU's most recent match at UCSB on Feb. 1 for her first win of the season.
Vang and sophomore Hannah Stone continue to lead the Lumberjacks in doubles play with a 2-2 record at No. 1, but have dropped their last two matches.
"We started off with really good doubles with Johanna and Hannah and that was impressive to start with, but unfortunately they couldn't keep it up in the last match," Bruno said. "Alice has been getting W's for us. When push comes to shove, Alice and Johanna have been able to get wins for us."
The first two matches this weekend will be against teams that the Lumberjacks were able to defeat a year ago. In the Lumberjack's second match of the 2012 season, they edged out a 4-3 victory over UTEP on the road. After taking the doubles point, senior Ghizelene Doballah and Vang both earned singles victories, but the match was knotted at 3-3 until senior Malia Wahinepio battled back from a first set defeat to win in three sets and clinch the win for NAU. The Lumberjacks also defeated New Mexico last season in Flagstaff, 6-1. NAU was particularly impressive in singles play, claiming five wins along with the doubles point in routing the Lobos for just the second win over UNM in school history.
UTEP this season is 3-3 coming off a narrow 4-3 loss to Milwaukee last Sunday. The Miners' last three matches have been decided by a 4-3 score with UTEP coming out on top against Drake and South Dakota for two of its three wins on the season. New Mexico has won its only match of the spring entering the weekend with a 7-0 blanking of Western New Mexico on Feb. 2.
Pacific is the Lumberjacks' third and final opponent of the weekend and is 3-2, scoring victories over Fresno Pacific, Weber State and most recently New Mexico State. NAU has never beaten Pacific in five previous meetings. The two schools last met in 2011 in Tempe, where Pacific scored a 6-1 victory over NAU. Wahinepio picked up the Lumberjacks' lone team point with a three-set win at No. 4 singles.
The Lumberjacks will play UTEP on Friday at 10 a.m., New Mexico on Saturday at 3 p.m. and Pacific on Sunday at 9 a.m. All three matches will be played at UNM's Linda Estes Tennis Complex. Live stats will also be available for Saturday's match against the Lobos here.