Women’s tennis sweeps weekend as rematch with Montana looms
A combined 27–5 Big Sky Conference singles record for NAU’s top four women highlighted the conclusion of the team’s regular season schedule this past weekend.
With wins against the Portland State Vikings and the Seattle University Redhawks, the Lumberjacks (10–12, 7–1 BSC) finished their seventh consecutive season with double digit victories.
“We’ve ended very strong this season,” said director of tennis Kim Bruno. “I believe that we’re playing up to our potential; we’re going to have a great tournament.”
The Lumberjacks now turn their focus to their first round opponent at the Big Sky Conference tournament, the University of Montana Grizzlies, who they defeated 4–3 in Flagstaff earlier this season.
“It’s not going to be an easy match for us by any means. It’s going to come down to how hard we are going to compete, how well we’re going to play that day and anything can happen,” Bruno said. “I mean, obviously, we have some confidence, but we’re not going to overlook this match at all.”
In Sunday’s regular season finale against Seattle (12–13), NAU recorded three straight victories with a 4–3 win.
Doubles play proved easier than singles for the Lumberjacks, who swept the three matches for the 1–0 lead.
The tandem of juniors Ghizelene Doballah and Maliah Wahinepio and true freshmen Hannah Stone and Johanna Vang dominated their respective doubles matches with 8–3 wins. Junior Alice Walker returned to doubles play, teaming up with fellow junior Alice Pacut for the fifth time and recording a 8–4 victory.
Doballah and Stone dropped singles matches at the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, respectively. The two women dropped their first sets 6–3, and Doballah was finished in her second set 6–0 while Stone was forced to retire after her first set.
The middle of the Lumberjacks’ lineup took home victories as Wahinepio, Pacaut and Vang won their matches in straight sets to clinch the match win.
The weekend kicked off with the Lumberjacks (9–12, 7–1 BSC) capping conference play with a 6–1 victory over the Vikings (4–15, 1–7 BSC).
Stone and Vang improved their doubles record to 11–6 overall with an 8–6 victory. Pacaut and Walker clinched the doubles point with an 8–5 victory.
The Lumberjacks’ top four players swept through singles play with straight set wins for Doballah, Stone and Vang. Wahinepio won her match in a third set tiebreaker 7–5, 4–6, 10–5. Doballah, Vang and Wahinepio improved to 7–1 in conference and Stone moved to 6–2.
The Lumberjacks return to the court on April 21 for the conference tournament at Gold River Racquet Club in Sacramento, Calif. If victorious in the first round, the Lumberjacks would play in the championship match at 10 a.m. on April 22.
“Every team in the Big Sky is out to get NAU. Every time we step on the court, we have to raise our level,” Bruno said. “I think it’s going to be an absolute dog fight out there. It’s going to come down to the wire and we have to be ready for that.”