League Perfection Personified by Lady Tritons

    WOMEN’S TENNIS — As head coach Liz LaPlante gets set to start her 29th year, she will be greeted by a recruiting class that could make an immediate impact for the defending California Collegiate Athletic Association conference champions. Freshman Katie Mulloy, UC Davis transfer Anita Athavale and Hilo-Hawaii transfer Krystal Mizuguchi have all caught coach LaPlante’s eye during preseason workouts and plan to do great things for the Tritons this season.

    “We have lost three players in our top six and those three girls have looked really strong in practice,” LaPlante said. “They definitely have the potential to keep us in contention for the conference championship again.”

    Under LaPlante’s coaching, the Tritons have put together a stunning streak of dominance in the CCAA. UCSD has won 40 straight matches against conference foes, a streak that goes all the way to the team’s final match of 2003. That’s only part of LaPlante’s resume — she also led the team to four national titles at the Division-III level, as well as 26 straight appearances in the NCAA tournament.

    Last season, the Tritons fell to top-ranked BYU-Hawaii in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Expectations are higher now with these strong newcomers. This year’s team got its highly anticipated season going at Cal Poly Pomona for the ITA West Region Championships, with the men’s team on Oct. 2 and Oct. 3. LaPlante put together the lineup for the singles and doubles draw largely based on experience. She used her top six returning players for the singles portion. In doubles, UCSD had three teams and LaPlante picked her two most successful doubles teams from last year to headline the lineup.

    After earning first-round byes, fifth-seed senior Ina Dan and eighth-seed sophomore Cindy Dao both had successful season openers, earning impressive victories in the process. Dan, the only UCSD senior to participate in the tournament, kicked things off with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Fallon Blattner from Cal Poly Pomona. That win allowed Dan to advance on to day two, where she beat Lexy Harrington of Cal State Stanislaus 6-0, 6-2.

    In the quarterfinals, Dan had a showdown with top seed Heiwenfi Li, but couldn’t keep things close, losing 6-1, 6-1. Li eventually won the tournament without dropping a set. Dao, who was part of LaPlante’s talented recruiting class from last season, started off wonderfully, beating Stephanie Shelton from Western New Mexico 6-0, 6-0 in her first match. Against Sonoma State’s Molly Maguire, Dao was able to keep her game in top form, winning 6-3, 6-3 to advance to the third round. Dao’s run would come to an end in that round where she lost 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 to Cal State Stanislaus’ Vanessa Reibstein.

    Anita Athavale started off her Triton career strong in the singles draw by defeating Marie-Caroline Legros of Grand Canyon University 6-1, 6-0. But things got difficult in a hurry, as she was dealt a matchup with the top overall seed in the tournament in the next round. Athavale was overwhelmed 6-1, 6-0 by Heiwenfi Li of powerhouse BYU-Hawaii.

    In a first-round dogfight against Michelle Stock of Cal Poly Pomona, sophomore Taskeen Bains was forced to retire because of an injury with the match on serve in the third set at 6-4, 3-6, 1-0. Another sophomore, Valerie Tang, the fifth and final Triton in the singles draw, had a great start in singles play, winning both her matches on day one to advance to the final 16. Her first match against Stefanie Griffin of Grand Canyon provided few stressful moments as Tang breezed her way to a 6-1, 6-0 win.

    Her next opponent, Mary Bulich of Sonoma State, provided only a little more resistance as the sophomore won 6-2, 6-1. Tang advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Bojana Ducovic of Cal State Los Angeles, but her run would end there with a 6-2, 6-2 loss to Verena Preikschas of Cal State Stanislaus, the third seed.

    In doubles action, LaPlante put Dao and Tang together for one of the teams. The duo earned a bye into the round of 16, then advanced to the final eight with an 8-3 win over Legros and Stephanie Halderman of Grand Canyon. In a matchup with BYU-Hawaii’s top-seeded team of Li and Jenny Chin in the quarterfinals, the doubles team would fall short with an 8-0 defeat. UCSD’s final doubles team was composed of Athavale and sophomore Roxy Pourmirzaie. In their first match together, the duo played well but lost in the quarterfinals in a tough 9-7 decision to Stephanie Luk and Mary Bulich of Sonoma State. The partnership of Bains and Dan was unable to participate in their matches — even though they were the second seed — because of Bain’s injury.

    In the coming weeks, UCSD has the annual Alumni Tournament on Oct. 8, followed by a short hiatus. The Tritons will return to action at the UC Irvine Tournament during the weekend of Nov. 15 and Nov. 16.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $2320
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal

    Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $2320
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal