Women’s tennis unstoppable

The 11th-ranked UCSD women’s tennis team wrapped up regular season play in dominating fashion, crushing Cal State Bakersfield to finish the season with a 16-3 overall record and a flawless 10-0 in California Collegiate Athletic Association conference play.

Billy Wong

The Tritons traveled to Bakersfield, Calif., on April 16 to take on the Roadrunners for the second time this season. In March, the Tritons shut out CSU Bakersfield, 9-0. There was little difference between that match and the latter one, as UCSD controlled the momentum of play from the first serve to final point.

The Triton contingent consisted entirely of freshman and sophomore players, as the team had already clinched its second consecutive CCAA conference title earlier in the week and the match had no major implications. Head coach Liz LaPlante decided to rest a number of her starters in preparation for postseason play, and brought only two of her regulars to Bakersfield. The alternates filled in seamlessly.

“Since we’re a big team, we’re able to fill in for each other,” sophomore Allison Legakis said. “Since these matches had to be made up [they had been rained out earlier this season], some players that don’t normally play got a chance to play and others got breaks. We’re able to work together and help each other out.”

Starting with doubles play, No. 1 sophomore tandem Marsha Malinow and Kristin Bronowicki easily dispatched of the Roadrunners’ duo Kati Lynott and Jennifer Pact, 8-2. Sophomore Liz Brown and freshman Justine Fonte, at the No. 2 spot, won 8-5 over CSU Bakersfield’s Patty Pfister and Marti Hoyt. Finally, sophomores Legakis and Tomo Noji romped to an 8-0 goose-egg victory over Brittany Albery and Mariya Lein at the No. 3 spot.

Singles play proved just as successful for the Tritons. Every match was taken in straight sets, and no Roadrunner player won more than three games in total, starting at the top of the ladder, with Malinow taking a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Lynott. Bronowicki, at No. 2, won, 6-0, 6-1, over Pfister. Pact, Brown’s opponent at No. 3, had to retire due to injury early in the match, with Brown leading 5-0. Fonte defeated Albery and Noji beat Hoyt by identical scores of 6-2, 6-1 at the No. 4 and No. 5 spots, respectively. Finally, Legakis completed UCSD’s sweep with a 6-2, 6-0 victory at No. 6.

“The coaches want us to use these matches to keep us sharp,” Legakis said. “Even though they weren’t important as far as implications, they were necessary, so [LaPlante] wanted us to concentrate on focus. I think we were successful.”

The Tritons finished the season on a five-match win streak and are the winners of seven of their last eight matches. They now await the official announcement of the site at which Regionals will be held. According to LaPlante, the team expects to host one of the two sites in the Western Regionals, with the other site at BYU-Hawaii, home to the top-ranked team in the country. The regional championships will be held from May 6 to May 8. The top-two teams in the region will attend Division II National Championships from May 12 to May 15, at a site to be determined.

According to Legakis, the team will spend a lot of time on the track to work on conditioning and make sure it is in top shape.

“We really need to make sure our concentration level is high throughout practices from now until then,” Legakis said. “We can’t afford to waste time, especially with no more matches left until then to help keep our mental games up.”

Last season, the Tritons made it to Regionals as well, but lost in Hawaii to Hawaii-Hilo, who went on to Nationals. The teams, likely to be seeded No. 2 and No. 3 in the region (No. 1 will likely be BYU-Hawaii), appear to be on another collision course at Regionals this season. By hopefully having secured home-court advantage, the Tritons should have the edge they need to make it to the next level. Hawaii-Hilo is ranked No. 12, and the Tritons defeated the Vulcans at home earlier this season, 7-2.