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Lobos Down Rival Aggies 4-2 to End Non-Con at 11-1

by Frank Mercogliano

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty darn close.  The Lobos finished off non-conference play in style with a 4-2 win over New Mexico State to finish the non-conference season at 11-1 on the year.  The Lobos will open conference play on Friday with an 11:30 am match with UNLV at McKinnon Family Tennis Stadium.

For UNM, the win over NMSU gives the Lobos another I-15 corridor sweep winning over both NMSU and UTEP in non-conference play.  The Lobos swept the doubles point to open things up as Leonie Hoppe and Katherine Jhang took a 6-2 win over Dora Kurdi and Anna Pinaieva.  That was coupled with a 6-2 win at No. 2 by Maria Sodre and Hsuan Huang over Valeriia Ivanovskaia and Varvara Nikolaeva.

In singles the two teams split the opening six sets with Jhang, Hoppe and Maud Vandeputte winning and Bente Vandeputte, Sarah O’Connor and Maria Sodre trailing.

For the most part, things stayed true to form as the teams would split the first four matches to finish.

New Mexico State squeaked out to a 2-1 win with wins at No. 6 and No. 2.  Whitney Moon took a 6-1, 6-2 decision of Sodre for the first point, and Pinaieva won 6-0, 6-2 over O’Connor at No. 2, but that would be all NMSU would get.

The Lobos answered fairly quickly with Maud Vandeputte’s 6-1, 6-1 win at No. 4 over Nikolaeva and Jhang winning in her first match at No. 1, taking down Natsuki Nishimura 6-2, 6-3.

All UNM needed was for Leonie Hoppe to finish off Lisa Zhu, but at 4-4, Zhu was able to get a break of serve and then hold for a 6-4 win to mover that match to a third set.  Likewise, Bente Vandeputte was even in her second set at 5-5 but she broke in the 11th game, and then held serve for an emphatic 7-5 second set win, pushing both remaining draws to a third.

UNM needed just one for the win, and Hoppe and Zhu traded serves to 2-1 before Hoppe started to exert her will on Zhu.  She hit back-to-back winners for a break, and then got a key ace in going up 4-1.

Another break of serve put the match squarely in site, and Zhu hit wide on match point for a 4-2 Lobo win.  Bente, who was on serve at 4-3, had her match abandoned with Ivanovskaia.

NOTES:  Hoppe and Maud Vandeputte now each have 15 singles wins to lead the team … Hoppe now has the overall lead with 32 wins (17 in doubles) … UNM is now 11-0 at No. 1 doubles and 9-1 at No. 2 doubles.