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Women’s Tennis to Play Four Straight Days in Las Cruces, El Paso

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Fresh off a two-match sweep in their first home matches of the season, Northern Arizona heads back on the road to contest four matches in four days, splitting action between Las Cruces, N.M. and El Paso, Texas. The Lumberjacks (4-2) open play in Las Cruces on Thursday night against Western New Mexico (2-2) before heading to El Paso to face UTEP (5-4) and Texas Pan-American (0-6) on Friday and Saturday. NAU returns to Las Cruces on Sunday to end the road trip with a match against New Mexico State (3-4).

“Every year we play UTEP and New Mexico State and they are always challenging matches. The level of tennis this weekend will be very high,” said director of tennis Kim Bruno. “We will have to play well one through six and be strong in doubles as well to come up with victories.”

“Adjusting to lower altitude will be a challenge, but the girls have been working really hard and are ready for it,” added Bruno. “Four matches in a row is not only physically grueling but mentally and emotionally tough to handle as well. It is going to take a huge team effort.”

Northern Arizona Quick Hits

NAU dominated Montana State and Grand Canyon, 6-1 and 7-0, respectively, in sweeping their first-two home matches last weekend and improving to 4-2 overall and 2-0 in the Big Sky…Sacramento State is the only other Big Sky team with a winning overall record (6-3)…The Lumberjacks have played on consecutive days once this season (Feb. 13 and 14 at Colorado State and Northern Colorado)…NAU has stretches of matches in three-consecutive days and four-consecutive days on the road in April…Freshman Malia Wahinepio has won five straight singles matches after falling in the Lumberjacks’ season opener…At 5-1, Wahinepio has the best singles record in the Big Sky (min. 4 matches)…Junior Edit Suhajda is 3-0 at No. 2 singles, recording the best record at that spot in the conference…Junior Yumi Hasegawa went 2-0 at No. 6 singles last week, only lost one total game (24-1), and only needed 27 minutes to win against Grand Canyon…The Lumberjacks are 4-2 at all-three doubles positions for the season.

Scouting Western New Mexico

Western New Mexico represents the second-consecutive Division-II opponent for Northern Arizona. The Mustangs are 2-2 on the season, with wins over Dixie State and Academy of Art, and have only played neutral-site matches so far in 2010. NAU is the first of two Division-I opponents for WNMU this season, as the Mustangs will face Rhode Island on March 27, three days after the Lumberjacks host the Rams.

Sophomore Nikolina Vukadin leads the Mustangs at No. 1 singles and doubles. The Lumberjacks are 2-0 all-time against Western New Mexico, but the only-two matches between the schools occurred in 1983.

Scouting UTEP

Riding a five-match winning streak, UTEP (University of Texas-El Paso) enters the week at 5-4 overall, having played their last-six matches at home and in the midst of a 13-match homestand. The Miners will host Texas-Pan American on Thursday before facing NAU and also have a match scheduled with Kansas on Sunday.

UTEP is lead by freshman Dariya Abdrakhmanova and sophomore Carolina DeLuca at No. 1 and 2 singles and No.1 doubles. The Lumberjacks are 8-10 all-time against UTEP. The teams have met in each of the last-three seasons, with NAU claiming a 5-2 win in El Paso in 2008.

Scouting Texas-Pan American

The Broncos are 0-6 and will face UTEP and New Mexico State before battling NAU on Saturday in El Paso. Texas-Pan American has only had five active players all season, defaulting a singles and doubles loss in every match. Senior Nina Ciric is 4-0 at No. 3 singles, the only Bronco with a winning singles record on the season.

The Broncos have only played one home match, a 6-1 loss to Texas State in Edinburg. Northern Arizona has only faced Texas-Pan American once before in team history, a 7-0 win last season in Las Cruces.

Scouting New Mexico State

The Aggies are 3-4 overall but have won their last-two matches at home. They will host Texas-Pan American and Kansas before closing the weekend with the Lumberjacks on Sunday. Junior Isabela Kulaif was named WAC player of the week for going 2-0 in both singles and doubles last week. Senior Sophia Marks leads the team at No. 1 singles.

The Lumberjacks are just 8-14 all-time against New Mexico State, having faced the Aggies in seven of the last eight seasons. Despite the overall record, NAU has won two of the last three matches between the schools, including a 4-3 win last year in Las Cruces.

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