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UNM Stays in First with 4-2 Win at BSU

by Frank Mercogliano

BOISE, Idaho — It truly is a different hero every match.  This time, and for the first time, it was Sarah O’Connor donning the cape.  The Lobo junior picked up a 6-2, 7-6 (9-7) win at No. 2 singles to clinch UNM’s 4-2 win over Boise State in a match played indoors at the Boas Tennis Center.  The win moved the Lobos to 15-1 on the season and a perfect 4-0 in the Mountain West.

UNM is the league’s last unbeaten team in Mountain West play.

O’Connor’s win was the clincher after UNM got a huge comeback win from Hsuan Huang at No. 3 singles and a big three-set win from Leonie Hoppe at No. 5.  Huang was down a set early to Joana Baptista, losing 6-4 before flipping the script over the last two sets.  Huang bolted to a 3-0 lead in the second, taking it 6-1, and then getting a key break of serve with the third set at 2-2.

Leading 5-3 in the third, Huang forced a deuce-point off serve and then watched Baptista hit long for the win and a 2-2 tie.

Hoppe, who won her first set over Nicole Discenza 6-1 and then lost her second 7-5 after not being able to convert two match points at 5-4, 40-30 and deuce.  In the third, Hoppe bolted to a 4-1 lead, twice winning a deuce point, but back-to-back duce point wins by Descenza moved it to 4-3.  Hoppe again went ahead 5-4, and twice again had match points, and Descenza again saved both.  Hoppe again took control, winning on her serve to make it 6-5, and then she saved a set point at 40-30 and then hit a perfect shot on her fifth match that Discenza couldn’t handle for the hard-fought 6-1, 5-7, 7-5 win.

That made it 3-2, and set the stage for O’Connor, who was up 6-2, 6-6 and even 7-7 in a tiebreak after twice saving set point at 6-4 and 6-5.  Even at 7-7 O’Connor forced Lorelyz Marruffo to hit long, and then on match point, O’Connor returned twice and then hit a shot short to the right of Marruffo, who stretched but could only hit it into the net, touching off a wild celebration.

UNM only needed three singles matches after taking the first two doubles matches with Hoppe and Katherine Jhang winning 6-1 and Maria Sodre and Huang winning 6-4.

The Lobos now head to Logan, Utah for a Saturday match with Utah State with a new start time of 10 am due to that match moving indoors.