Tennis Takes Two

Senior Alex Vlaski defeated Ryan Stotland 6-4,6-3 to clinch the match as the 21st-ranked Husky men wrapped up a busy day of action Friday at the Nordstrom Tennis Center with a 5-2 win over the 65h ranked New Mexico Lobos. The 10th-ranked Husky women took the court earlier in the day and easily swept the Gonzaga Bulldogs 7-0 in the first encounter ever between the two schools in women's tennis.

After winning the first set against Stotland 6-4, Vlaski went up a break and led Stotland 5-3 in the second set. Serving to stay in the match, Stotland quickly faced three match points at 0-40. He saved one match point with a service winner but on the next point Vlaski closed out the match with a sizzling crosscourt backhand return winner.

The Lobos took an early 1-0 lead in the match by taking the doubles point. Andy Kuharszky and Michael Ricks won the first match for the Huskies at the #3 position with an 8-2 win over Derek Boland and Eric Conklin, but the Lobos got even when Max Jones and Kamil Pajkowksi beat Daniel Chu and Peter Scharler 8-4 at #2. That left the doubles point on the Husky pair of Vlaski and Christoph Palmanshofer and the Lobos' nationally third ranked duo of Stotland and David Kowalski.

Vlaski and Palmanshofer broke Stotland's serve in the opening game of the match but the Lobos got the break back against Vlaski in the sixth game for a 3-3 tie. The Huskies had two break chances against Kowalski for a 7-5 lead in the 12th game but Stotland saved both of them, first on a forehand overhead winner and then a forehand volley winner. After another deuce Stotland gave the Lobos the game with another forehand overhead and forehand volley.

Both sides held serve to 8-8, forcing the match into a tiebreak. New Mexico got a mini-break for a 2-0 lead when Kowalski smacked a forehand return at Vlaski but the Huskies got it back and closed to 5-3 on a backhand unforced error by Kowalski. The Lobos got three match points at 6-3, when Palmanshofer netted a forehand return, but the Huskies looked like they might have a chance to pull out the tiebreak when they won the next two points to close to 6-5 on a service winner by Vlaski and an overhead forehand smash by Palmanshofer. On the 12th point Kowalski struck a service winner wide to Vlaski's forehand to give the Lobos the thrilling 9-8 (5) victory.

With the doubles point going to the Lobos, the Huskies had to win at least four of the six singles matches to pull out the victory. Scharler tied the match at 1-1 with an easy 6-1,6-1 victory over Conklin in the #5 position. Scharler jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the opening set before Conklin finally took a game. Then he held at love and broke Conklin at love to take the set.

In the second set, after both players held serve for a 1-1 tie, Scharler won the next five games to close out the match.

Chris Floyd then put the Huskies up 2-1 with a 6-0,6-0 double bagel of Boland at the #6 position. The Lobos tied the match when Jones defeated Chu 6-1,6-3 at #3. Kuharszky put the Huskies up 3-2 with a 6-0,6-1 win over Pajkowski at #4. After Vlaski clinched the match Palmanshofer won his match at #2 when Kowalski had to retire after trailing 6-3,4-1.

In the women's match, despite playing without top player Dea Sumantri, the Huskies nonetheless made short work of the Bulldogs.

They swept the doubles, as Saskia Nauenberg and Alison Rainey defeated Kendall Bates and Amanda Becker 8-2 at the #2 position. Then Mugette Ahn and Dinka Hadzic beat Angie Fry and Sirrah Williams 8-2 in the top doubles match and Tara Simpson and Stephanie Svanfeldt prevailed over Sydney Lederhouse and Erin Humphrey 8-6 at #3.

When play shifted to singles, the Huskies continued their domination. At #4, Simpson crushed Lederhouse 6-1,6-0. Rainey followed with a 6-1,6-2 win over Williams at #5, and Svanfeldt beat Humphrey 6-1,6-1 at #6. At #2 Ahn shut out Fry 6-0,6-0 and Nauenberg disposed of Bates 6-2,6-1 at the #3 position.

In the top singles match, Hadzic and Becker had yet to complete the first set when the other five singles matches ended. Hadzic fell behind 0-3 before rallying to win the next four games and eventually the set 6-4 when Becker dumped a backhand into the net.

In the second set, Hadzic led 2-0 and 3-1 before Becker broke serve and then held for 3-3. Hadzic held serve for a 4-3 lead and then broke Becker in the eighth game for a 5-3 lead. She had two break chances but Becker saved one with a backhand passing shot into the ad court and the second when Hadzic netted a backhand. Becker then had a game point for 4-4 when Hadzic committed a forehand unforced error, but squandered it with a double fault. Hadzic then seized another break chance with a forehand approach winner and finally cashed it in with a terrific backhand stab volley on what looked like a forehand winner for Becker. Hadzic then served out the match at love to punctuate the Huskies' sweep.

With the wins, both the Husky men and women improved their records to 3-0. The women next host Boise State on Saturday, January 29 at 11 a.m., while the men continue their season opening 11 match homestand when they face Michigan State at 2 p.m. on Sunday January 30. Both matches will take place at the Nordstrom Tennis Center.


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