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No. 75 Lobos Move to 9-0 with Third Straight Shutout

by Frank Mercogliano

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — There are rolls, there are hot streaks and then there is what UNM’s women’s tennis team is on, because they are basically a burning tire rolling downhill and picking up stream, and it’s not a fun thing to be standing in front of.

UTEP found that out on Sunday in front of a big crowd at McKinnon Family Tennis Stadium where the Lobos won a third straight match by shutout, taking down the Miners for the 37th time in 38 tries, winning 6-0.

The win moved UNM to 9-0 on the season and it will stay there for a bit as the Lobos have a much-needed week off before three matches in four days March 7-10, culminating with the non-conference finale against New Mexico State at McKinnon Family Tennis Stadium on Sunday, March 10 at 11 am.

UNM, which has gone a ridiculous 17-3 in doubles in the spring, won the doubles point with a sweep, and they didn’t even get a piece of it from their top team of Leonie Hoppe and Katherine Jhang, as their match was halted just three points from a win up 5-4, 15-0.

Instead it was the No. 2 pairing of Hsuan Huang and Maria Sodre winning a fourth straight doubles match, taking a 6-2 win over Carlotta Mencaglia and Hanna Telzynska.  In the race for the clinch, UNM’s newest pairing of Maud Vandeputte and Sarah O’Connor took a 6-4 win at No. 3 ove DeCora Antoine and Elena Dibatista for the 1-0 lead.

From there, it all went to plan with UNM winning all of the first sets, including 6-1 wins by Huang and Hoppe.

Sodre made it 2-0 with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Paloma Hennicaux, winning the final 10 games after trailing 3-2 early.  Leonie Hoppe continuted her red-hot streak, winning her fourth in a row, this 6-1, 6-1 over Zuzanna Szczepanska.

For Hoppe, it’s a hot streak in which in those four matches, she hasn’t dropped a set, all in straight sets, and five of the eight wins are either 6-1 or 6-0.

Up 3-0, it was just a matter of time before either Hsuan Huang or Maud Vandeputte won their respective matches, and it was Huang taking clinching honors with a 6-1, 7-5 win.

With the match clinched, the No. 2 singles match with Jhang and Lebisova was abandoned with Jhang up 6-3, 3-4.

That left Vandeputte  to win her fifth in a row, and she did so without drama, winning a 6-3, 6-2 decision over Dibatista.

All that remained was if UNM could keep UTEP off the boad, and that fell to O’Connor at No. 1.  After splitting her first two sets with Mencaglia, O’Connor winning the first 6-2 and losing the second 6-3, they played a 10-point tiebreaker.

After the first change, it was 3-3, but O’Connor took advantage of a double fault paired with two wicked forehard passing shots for an 8-4 lead.

Mencaglia got it back to 8-7, but O’Connor put it away.  First with forehand that her opponent couldn’t do anything with, and then she watched Mencaglia hit long for the 10-7 third set win, and UNM’s fifth shutout of the season.

NOTES:  UNM is ranked at No. 75, it’s the first ranking since getting into the rankings as high as No. 31 in 2015 … UNM is now 19-3 in doubles in the spring and 36-10 in singles … Maud Vandeputte is now 8-1 in the spring … she and Hoppe are tied with 13 singles wins, 14 doubles wins (along with Sodre) and 27 total wins on the season.