TCU’s women’s tennis team upended top-seeded UNLV, 4-2, Friday at the University Tennis Complex to advance to the championship match of the Mountain West Women’s Tennis Championship for the fourth-straight year.
With winds gusting up to 25 mphand temperatures dipping into the 50s, the Horned Frogs improved to 13-10 on the year and handed the 38th-ranked Rebels their first loss against an MWC opponent this season. TCU will square off with No. 2 seed Utah at 11 a.m., CT on Saturday.
“The conditions were so bad that it isn’t about how well you play, it’s how you handle the circumstances,” TCU coach Dave Borelli said. “I think my kids did a really good job. It just comes down to trying to deal with the conditions. If you can find a way to win a match ugly, that says a lot about you. When you’re playing well, winning is easy.”
Sophomore Federica Denti scoredthe fourth and final point for the Frogs with her three-set victory at No. 4 singles over Adrienn Hidvegi. After dropping the first set 6-2, Denti bounced back for a 6-2 triumph of her own in the second set.
The Bellano, Italy, native continued her hot play at the start of the third set, jumping out to a 4-1 lead. However, Hidvegi battled back to square the match at four games apiece. After holding serve to take a 5-4 lead, Denti hammered home a forehand smash to place the Frogs in the championshipmatch.
“The last set was really tough,” Denti said. “I started out so well, then the wind started blowing and I was going against it. It got to 4-3 and I started to panic a little bit because I was one of the last matches on the court. At 4-all, I started playing to beproud of myself and I’m glad I did.”
In a match that spanned more than 90 minutes, TCU’s No. 3 doubles duo of Idunn Hertzberg and Gaby Mastromarino scored a thrilling 9-8 (5) win over Jana Albers and Adrienn Hidvegi to clinch the crucial doubles point to open the match for TCU.
The Frog tandem led 7-5 in the match and was serving to put it away before the UNLV squad stormed back to take an 8-7 lead. Hertzberg and Mastromarino were able to force a tiebreaker, only to find themselves in a 4-2 hole early in the breaker.
Three of the next four points belonged to the Purple and White as Hertzberg’s volley winner sparked a TCU celebration prior to play being halted due to high winds.
The heroics at No. 3, though, weren’t enough to clinch the doubles point on their own. Senior Maria Babanova and Katariina Tuohimaa won an 8-6 match over Aleksandra Josifoska and NivesPavlovic that had its share of drama as well.
In the blustery conditions, theFrog duo jumped out to a 4-3 lead, only to drop the next two games and fallbehind 5-4. In the end, Tuohimaa’s play at the baseline and Babanova’s play at the net were enough for the Frogs to grab an 8-6 win.
After play was restarted after nearly a 70 minute delay between doubles and singles, TCU’s Olivia Smith got right to work putting the Frogs up 2-0. She made quick work of Josifoska, scoring a 6-0, 6-2 win.
It was the Bath, England, native’s ninth singles win in a row and improves her season mark to 16-6. She has eight wins in nine chances this spring against MWC foes.
UNLV got on the board for the first time with a win at No. 3 singles, only to see the Frogs quickly extend their lead to 3-1 with Hertzberg’s win at No. 5 singles. The Oslo, Norway, product’s 6-2, 6-2 triumph was her second of the tournament.
The Rebels (20-5) scored their second point with a win at No. 6 singles before Denti was able to put it away for the Frogs. Tuohimaa’s match at No. 1 was stopped in the third set after the match was clinched for TCU.
TCU looks to earn a berth in the NCAA Championships for the eighth-straight year Saturday and capture its third-straight MWC tournament title.
No. 4 TCU 4, No. 1 UNLV 1
University Tennis Complex – Fort Collins, Colo.
April 29, 2011
No. 1 – Katariina Tuohimaa (TCU) vs. Lucia Batta (UNLV), 5-7, 7-5, unfinished
No. 2 – Olivia Smith (TCU) def. Aleksandra Josifoska (UNLV), 6-0, 6-2
No. 3 – Nives Pavlovic (UNLV) def. Gaby Mastromarino (TCU), 6-2, 6-2
No. 4 – Federica Denti (TCU) def. Adrienn Hidvegi (UNLV), 2-6, 6-2, 6-4
No. 5 – Idunn Hertzbeg (TCU) def. Anna Maskaljun (UNLV), 6-2, 6-2
No. 6 – Jana Albers (UNLV) def. Shalini Sahoo (TCU), 6-3, 6-1
No. 1 – Maria Babanova/Katariina Tuoihmaa (TCU) def. Aleksandra Josifoska/Nives Pavlovic (UNLV), 8-6
No. 2 – Lucia Batta/Anna Maskaljun (UNLV) def. Federica Denti/Olivia Smith (TCU), 8-5
No. 3 – Idunn Hertzberg/Gaby Mastromarino (UNLV) def. Jana Albers/Adrienn Hidvegi (UNLV), 9-8 (5)
#1 UNLV Rebels 20-5 (8-0 MWC); National ranking #38
#4 TCU Horned Frogs 13-10 (5-3 MWC); National ranking #71
Order of Finish: Singles (2,3,5,6,4,) Doubles (2,1,3)
Due to high winds, singles action was delayed approximately 70 minutes
Mountain West Women’s Tennis Championship Semifinals