Streaks come to an end for women’s tennis, eliminated in Big Sky semifinals
A pair of streaks were snapped as the NAU women’s tennis team fell to the University of Montana Grizzlies in the semifinals of the Big Sky Conference tournament in Sacramento, Calif.
The Lumberjacks had downed the Grizzlies in 11 straight matches before Saturday’s loss, which prevents the Lumberjacks from participating in their seventh straight Big Sky championship match. The Grizzlies won the match 4-2 to advance to face Sacramento State.
“We came out playing well and I wouldn’t say we fell apart by any means,” said director of tennis Kim Bruno. “We played good tennis. We knew it was going to be a battle going into this. We had three setters that could’ve gone either way and if you look at the scores, it really was a point here and a point there and we couldn’t come up with it today.”
NAU kicked off the day on the right foot, taking the doubles point from Montana 2-1.
The No. 3 combo of juniors Alice Pacaut and Nicole Perez lost 8-4, but the Lumberjacks swept the two remaining matches to capture the point. Juniors Ghizelene Doballah and Malia Wahinepio evened the score with an 8-4 victory at the No. 1 position.
The freshman pairing of Hannah Stone and Johanna Vang earned an 8-3 victory to put the Lumberjacks ahead 1-0. With the win, the pairing finished the season with a team-high 13 doubles victories, and gave Stone a total of 14 doubles wins this season.
As the match transitioned to singles play, the Lumberjacks maintained an early 2-1 lead. Perez quickly fell 6-2, 6-1 in her match at the No. 5 spot, but Wahinepio pushed the Lumberjacks back ahead with a straight set 6-4, 6-3 win.
However, Montana rattled off three consecutive wins to clinch the win. First, Doballah dropped the No. 1 match 6-4, 6-3. Then, Stone and Pacaut lost their matches in a third set at the No. 2 and No. 5 spots respectively. Pacaut won her first set 6-2, but lost the second and third with scores of 6-3 and 6-4.
Stone lost her match 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to clinch the match for the Grizzlies. With the result of the team match official, Vang’s match would wind up unfinished.
Wahinepio’s singles win moved her into a three-way tie with Pacaut and Vang, who all finished the year with 11 singles victories.
The Lumberjacks will return all six of the starters from the semifinal match next season.
“I don’t think the girls want this feeling again and we have to learn from it and move on,” Bruno said. “We’re going to be better next year, there’s no question about it.”