|Women's tennis seeded fifth heading into WAC|
MOSCOW, Idaho -- The University of Idaho Women's Tennis team lost its opening match of the season to Washington State in January. The team's next loss would not come until April.
In between losses, the Vandals racked up 16-straight wins against opponents near and far. The winning streak started against Lewis Clark State in Lewiston and included wins against Georgetown in Washington D.C. and Temple in Philadelphia.
The Vandals finished the season 20-5 making it back-to-back seasons the team has won 20 matches. Idaho closed out the season in excellent form, winning the final three matches of the season, all against conference opponents.
"I feel like this is definitely one of the best women's tennis teams that Idaho has produced and I feel like we are playing at a high level right now," Women's Tennis Head Coach Tyler Neill said.
Gabriela Niculescu has been a revelation for Idaho at the top of the lineup this season. The USC transfer's superb season was highlighted by her upset of Boise State's Pichittra Thongdach who was ranked No. 46 in the nation at the time.
Niculescu also nabbed player of the week honors in the first week of March. She was one of three Vandals named player of the week this season. Barbara Maciocha and Maria Pervoshchikova also were named player of the week during the season. Perevoshchikova also won WAC player of the month for September.
On the eve of the WAC tournament the team now needs to build on the success of the regular to put together a strong showing in Fresno.
"We have had a good season and now it is time to step up when the pressure is on," Neill said. "I feel good about our team going into the WAC tournament."
Idaho earned the fifth seed in the tournament piping New Mexico State to the spot despite the two teams' identical conference record. Idaho upset New Mexico State in Las Cruces to earn the tiebreaker over the Aggies.
The Vandals get a rematch against Hawaii in the first round of the tournament. Idaho lost to Hawaii 4-2 in the first meeting earlier this season.
"Hawaii is a tough team and we should have a very competitive match with them," Neill said. "We were very close to beating them last time and if we play to our capability, I feel like it is a match we can win."
Idaho meets Hawaii in the opening round of the WAC tournament at 11 a.m. in Fresno on Friday.