|Vandals ride momentum into WAC|
With wins in four of its last five matches, the Idaho women’s tennis team is peaking at the right time heading into this week’s Western Athletic Conference tournament. The fifth-seeded Vandals (12-11, 5-4 WAC) will face No. 4 seed UT Arlington (7-12, 6-3) in the quarterfinals on Thursday at 9 a.m. (PT) in Denver.
“The girls and I are really excited for the tournament because we have been playing really well lately and have gotten better as the season has gone on,” Idaho coach Myriam Sopel said. “It’s perfect timing for the conference tournament right now because we have really bonded together and we really are a solid and close team. Every match is going to be tough, we know that, but we have the experience of having played these teams already and we’re ready for this.”
Idaho is coming off a 5-2 win at Utah State in the regular season finale last week, and Sopel said the recent match at elevation will give the team an advantage as it prepares to potentially play three matches in three days in the Mile High City.
“We got used to altitude last week, playing at elevation, so I think that’s going to be an advantage over the teams who haven’t done that,” Sopel said. “We are really ready. We have to keep doing the things we’ve been doing for the past month. From the first shot never giving up and fighting for every point.”
Vandal players have earned WAC Player of the Week honors each of the last two weeks, as Almudena Sanz earned the recognition earlier this week and Victoria Lozano was the honoree last week. Sanz and Lozano are the only players to play in the Nos. 1 and 2 singles positions this season, as Lozano is 11-9 at No. 1 singles and Sanz is 11-10 at No. 2. The two have also teamed up to go 13-4 at No. 1 doubles for Idaho, accounting for all 13 of Idaho’s No. 1 doubles victories this season.
If Idaho advances past Thursday’s quarterfinal match it will play the winner of (1) Denver vs. (8) New Mexico State in the semifinals at 1 p.m. (PT) on Friday, April 26. The Vandals beat NMSU 4-0 earlier this season, and lost to DU 6-1. The WAC championship match will be April 27 at 1 p.m. (PT).