SEDONA, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona women's team honored its five seniors prior to its regular season finale on Saturday at the Enchantment Resort and then proceeded to roll to its 16th win of the season, receiving singles wins from all five seniors playing in their final home match. The Lumberjacks shut out Weber State, 7-0, and will enter next week's Big Sky Championship tournament as the No. 3 seed with an 8-2 conference record.
"We had a lot of fun out here and you could tell that the girls wanted to compete," said director of tennis Kim Bruno. "With Alice (Walker) clinching the 7-0 victory means a lot to the whole team and the whole program. These (seniors) have done well over the last couple of years and it's so sweet to enjoy it and go out on a high note."
Looking for a strong start to Senior Day, the Lumberjacks began the match with inspired doubles play. One week removed from notching their school-record breaking win, seniors Alice Pacaut and Malia Wahinepio improved to 18-3 this season with their 17th win in 18 matches to kick off the doubles competition. Pacaut and Wahinepio set the tone early with their 8-2 win at No. 3, which junior Tatum Rochin and sophomore Hannah Stone would equal at No. 1 to clinch the doubles point.
Seniors Ghizelene Doballah and Nicole Perez entered Saturday's match on a 10-match win streak and did not want to see that end in their final home match of their careers. Locked in a tight back and forth battle with the Wildcats' Ashley Tanner and Michelle Warwick, NAU's No. 2 senior tandem would ultimately prevail in a tiebreaker, 8-7 (7-4), to extend their win streak to a team season-best 11 matches. Doballah and Perez's win also sealed up the Lumberjacks' 11th consecutive doubles sweep as the team has now won 32 straight doubles matches dating back to March 10.
Wahinepio, the team's captain, put the Lumberjacks ahead 2-0 with a convincing 6-1, 6-1 victory at No. 3 for her 51st career singles victory in her final regular season match. After Doballah won 6-1, 6-2, at No. 2, Stone, the only underclassmen competing for NAU in singles play, ensured that the senior class would go out winners as she triumphed 6-3, 6-2 at No. 1.
With the match clinched, Pacaut kept Lumberjack winning ways going pulling out a three-set victory after a first-set loss at No. 4. Pacaut rallied back and to win the final two sets, including the third set in a tiebreak, to give the Lumberjacks a 5-0 lead. NAU concluded the match with straight-set wins from Perez and senior Alice Walker at the final two positions.
Perez won her team-leading 18th match of the season, while Walker was a winner in her first match of the season. Doballah's win at No. 2 was her 10th this season and now all six NAU starters are in double-figures in the win column.
The Lumberjacks climbed to 16-9 overall with their 10th win in their final 11 matches to conclude the regular season. The 16 wins are the most in program history since 2002 when the team won 17 matches. The Lumberjacks will play their Big Sky quarterfinal match next Friday against an opponent still to be determined. The Big Sky Championship tournament will be held in Sacramento, Calif. from April 26-28.
"We're obviously confident and we're going to walk in there with a chip on our shoulder," Bruno said. "We have something to prove this year and I think we can. We played outstanding all season and we're going to do everything within our power to bring home a championship. We're going to leave it on the court and somebody is going to have to beat us."
1. Tatum Rochin/Hannah Stone/(NAU) def. Kristi Elmer/Thais Kurer (WSU), 8-2*
2. Ghizelene Doballah/Nicole Perez (NAU) def. Ashley Tanner/Michelle Warwick (WSU), 8-7 (7-4)
3. Alice Pacaut/Malia Wahinepio (NAU) def. Carly Lloyd/Nittaya Phonharath (WSU), 8-2
*Clinched Doubles Point
Order of Finish: (3, 1, 2)
1. Stone (NAU) def. Tanner (WSU), 6-3, 6-2**
2. Doballah (NAU) def. Elmer (WSU), 6-1, 6-2
3. Wahinepio (NAU) def. Phonharath (WSU), 6-1, 6-1
4. Pacaut (NAU) def. Kurer (WSU), 2-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7-5)
5. Perez (NAU) def. Warwick (WSU), 6-4, 6-0
6. Alice Walker (NAU) def. Annika Karlsen (WSU), 6-2, 6-2
Order of Finish: (3, 2, 1, 4, 5, 6)