ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The Northern Arizona women's tennis wrapped up a perfect weekend on Sunday, defeating Pacific, 4-2, at UNM's Linda Estes Tennis Complex to complete a three-for-three weekend. The three-match win streak could not come at a better time as the Lumberjacks' Big Sky opener on the horizon next weekend. NAU now sits at 3-4 on the season after its first-ever victory over Pacific in program history in six meetings.
"The match was super intense starting with doubles, but our girls came out ready to play, pumped up from their wins the last two days," said director of tennis Kim Bruno. "They played outstanding doubles with sheer energy and competitiveness and we took that momentum into the singles like the rest of the weekend. I can't say how proud I am of the team to come together and turn our record around and not just compete, but win against these top teams this weekend."
Like they had done in their two previous matches this weekend, the Lumberjacks once again gained the early edge by claiming the doubles point against the Tigers, who had entered Sunday's match unbeaten for the weekend in Albuquerque as well. Seniors Alice Pacaut and Malia Wahinepio knocked off Gergana Boncheva and Regina Suarez, 8-2, at No. 3 to put NAU in the driver's seat. Their win was followed by the Lumberjacks' other senior pair of Ghizelene Doballah and Nicole Perez, who clinched the 1-0 lead for NAU with their own win at No. 2 doubles.
The Lumberjack advantage would quickly balloon to 3-0 with sophomore Johanna Vang and Wahinepio notching straight set wins at No. 3 and 4 singles respectively. Vang won her third match of the weekend and fourth straight overall, defeating Susan Te, 6-1, 6-1, while Wahinepio registered her second win in as many days, 6-2, 6-2, over Pacific's Christiana Ferrari. The Tigers would battle back to bring the team score to 3-2 with wins of their own at No. 1 and 5. However, Perez halted the Tiger rally and capped off NAU's undefeated weekend with a 6-2, 7-6 (7-0) win at No. 6 singles.
Perez's match-clinching victory equaled Vang's perfect 3-0 singles record for the weekend. Despite her loss on Sunday, Pacaut finished the weekend at 2-1, as did Wahinepio. As a team, the Lumberjacks posted a 10-7 singles mark and a near-perfect 7-1 doubles mark in their three wins over UTEP, New Mexico and Pacific over the last three days.
"We've been competing with the teams we've played like when we went out to California, against ASU, against UA, but we didn't get the W's," Bruno said. "This goes to prove to the team when we keep working hard, the wins are going to come our way. We knew going into the weekend that this was going to completely turn our season around or really hurt us and the girls rose to the challenge and competed as a team as the good teams do. Going into our first conference match, this is exactly what we needed."
The Lumberjack women will look to continue to build on their winning streak next weekend when they travel to Colorado for another three matches in three days. Between non-conference matches at Air Force and University of Colorado on Saturday and Monday respectively, the Lumberjacks will commence Big Sky play on Sunday at Northern Colorado.
1. Hannah Stone/Johanna Vang (NAU) vs. Iveta Masarova/Hana Ritterova (UOP), unfinished (Tied 6-6)
2. Ghizelene Doballah/Nicole Perez (NAU) def. Christiana Ferrari/Susan Te (UOP), 8-4*
3. Alice Pacaut/Malia Wahinepio (NAU) def. Gergana Boncheva/Regina Suarez (UOP), 8-2
*Clinched Doubles Point
Order of Finish: (3, 2)
1. Ritterova (UOP) def. Doballah (NAU), 6-4, 6-2
2. Stone (NAU) vs. Masarova (UOP), unfinished (UOP leading 6-2, 2-6, 0-2)
3. Vang (NAU) def. Te (UOP), 6-1, 6-1
4. Wahinepio (NAU) def. Ferrari (UOP), 6-2, 6-2
5. Boncheva (UOP) def. Pacaut (NAU), 6-4, 7-5
6. Perez (NAU) def. Suarez (UOP), 6-2, 7-6 (7-0)**
Order of Finish: (3, 4, 1, 5, 6)