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Women's Tennis Moves to 6-1 Overall

by Frank Mercogliano

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — You can forgive the New Mexico Lobo women’s tennis team if it thought today was February 2 and not February 18, because it sure felt like Groundhog’s Day.  Just like the teams’ last match, UNM lost the doubles point and then won five of six singles matches to beat a WAC title contender 5-2. This time is was Grand Canyon, pushing UNM to 6-1 on the season and dropping the ‘Lopes to 2-2.  The win was eerily identical to UNM’s last outing, a 5-2 win last Saturday over New Mexico State, which was also played at the Linda Estes Tennis Center Indoor Bubble.

The Lobos fell behind 1-0 for the second straight match, losing the doubles point 2-1.  The Lobos got a win at No. 1 with Yue Lin “Polly” Chen and Myu Kageyama taking 6-4 decision.  That evened things up at 1-1 after Hsuan Huang and Hsiang-Wen “Albie Huang fell at No. 2 6-2.  That left things to No. 3 doubles, and UNM made a switch in the lineup, going with Sataho Toriumi and Sofia Taborga, who was making her collegiate debut.  The pairing played well, but at 4-3 suffered a break and lost 6-3, giving the doubles point to Grand Canyon.

It didn’t really matter though as UNM rolled in singles, winning five matches, four of them in straight sets.  UNM won the opening set on five courts and put immediate pressure on Grand Canyon, and the ‘Lopes could never answer any of the punches thrown by UNM.  UNM quickly went up 2-1 at Kageyama put a mathodical match together, stringing together plenty of points and never getting broken on the way to a 6-1, 6-1 win, which was followed in no short order by Albie Huang’s 6-2, 6-0 win, winning the final eight games of her match.

Toriumi then won her second straight match since being reinserted into the No. 6 slot in the lineup with a 6-2, 6-4 win, bouncing back from an 0-3 hole in the second set.  GCU staved off the inevitable with a 6-1, 7-6 (7-4) win at No. 1 singles as Natasha Puehse won over Polly Chen, taking the tiebreaker by winning the final five points.  Hsuan Huang clinched the match for UNM with a three-set win at No. 2 singles, her first match there of the season.  She defeated Fabienne Schmidt 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 to give UNM a 4-2 lead.  All that was left was Sarah O’Connor’s match at No. 3.  O’Connor had flipped spots with Huang, who has moved up from No. 5 all the way to No. 2.  O’Connor had lost four straight, but she opened her singles match with a thorough 6-2 win in the opening set, and it looked like she would have an easy time of things up 5-2.  Her opponent Santa Strombacha broke twice and suddenly O’Connor fall behind 6-5 in the second.  A loss would have forced a third-set 10-point superset tiebreaker, but O’Connor would have none of that.  She forced a tiebreaker by winning the 12th game, and then took a 4-2 lead into the change-over.  She moved ahead 5-2, split points on Strombacha’s serve to have a set point, and then she watched as her forehard down the line was returned long, giving her a win and UNM a 5-2 margin.

The Lobos now hit the road to the Lone Star State, facing off against Lamar and McNeese State next weekend.

NOTES: Hsuan Huang is 6-0 this season in singles (1-0 at No. 2, 2-0 at No. 3, 1-0 at No. 4 and 2-0 at No. 5) … Kagayama’s win pushed her to 15-6 in singles this season, and combined with doubles, she has 25 wins this year … UNM is now 29-11 in singles this spring.