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Lobos Edged by No. 65 SDSU 4-3 But Remain in First

by Frank Mercogliano

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M — The Lobos had won 15 consecutive doubles points.  They didn’t on Sunday against No. 65 San Diego State, and it proved costly.  The Aztecs and UNM split six singles matches, but an 8-6 tiebreaker win swung doubles to SDSU, helping them pull out a 4-3 win and shortening the gap between UNM and the rest of the league.

The Lobos dropped to 17-2 overall and 6-1 in the Mountain West, remaining in first a half-game ahead of San Diego State, who is now 11-5 and 5-1.  Both SDSU and UNM have had matches rained out, with UNM not playing at Fresno State and San Diego State not hosting San Jose State.  The Mountain West has not announced if those matches must be made up, although both UNM and SJSU had spent airfare and travel money to get to their destinations before getting rained out.

UNM caught an early break when injury forced SDSU to play just five players, effectively forfeiting a singles point and half of doubles.  That should have made the doubles point UNM’s as the Lobos had lost just once all year at No. 1 doubles, and once at No. 2, and never in the same match, but that’s what happened.  After falling 6-2 at No. 1, UNM had a 6-5 lead and was serving, but lost that chance in five points, sending the match to a tiebreaker.  UNM jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the tiebreaker before SDSU took advantage of a double fault to score four straight.  UNM tied it at 4, but the Aztecs earned double set point at 6-4.  Hsuan Huang then hit a winner for 6-5, and with SDSU serving to Maria Sodre, they double-faulted, tying it again at 6-6.

After the change, SDSU got two quick points to take doubles and a 1-0 lead, which immediately moved to 1-1.  SDSU then led 2-1 and 3-2 but UNM had answers.  Leonie Hoppe continued her solid play with her 21st win of the season, winning 6-4, 6-4, coming from down a break in both sets, and Hsuan Huang won a wild match 7-5, 7-5.  She led the second set 4-0 up two breaks, but she lost her serve three straight times to trail 5-4.  Then she twice broke serve to win 7-5.

That left everything to No. 1 singles which had just started a third set.  Katherine Jhang won the first set in a tiebreak 7-5 and lost the second to Yasmine Kabbaj 6-2.  Jhang won the first game to go up 1-0 and then had Kabbaj on the ropes with three break points to move to 2-0, but Kabbaj saved all three, two on unforced errors to tie it 1-1.  She then took the next four games to make it 5-1, eventually taking the match 6-2.

NOTES: UNM dropped to 37-7 in doubles during dual matches … Maud Vandeputte lost in her first attempt at a 20-win season … UNM hosts Wyoming on Sunday, April 14 at 11 am on Senior Day.