Women’s tennis won again Saturday to finish the regular season with a perfect record at home and in conference play, but the team still has a lot of unfinished business.
New Mexico continued asserting itself early in matches. Andrea Leblanc and Rachana Bhat paired up to take the first doubles match over Elisa Nelson and Mary Meyers, 6-1. Teammates Emily Oliver and Dominique Dulski won 6-2 to snag the doubles point and take an early 1-0 lead over Air Force in the team score.
“I thought in doubles, we came out in terms of energy better than I had seen us at home in a while,” head coach Kelcy McKenna said. “I thought the girls did a really good job of playing together today versus a really tough team.”
Attitude, energy and effort, McKenna’s three main ingredients for success, were sustained in singles play as well.
Leblanc and Oliver quickly got off the court, both earning straight set victories to give the Lobos a commanding 3-0 lead. Leblanc seemed to dictate the pace of her match and capitalize on her opponent’s unforced errors.
“We worked on sticking to my pattern this week,” Leblanc said. “Everything was just working; I was playing my style.”
Dulski clinched the team victory in another one-sided matchup. She defeated Lily Forlini, 6-2, 6-1 to seal the deal, but the schools elected to finish the final three matches.
Sharon Coone gave up a 4-1 second set lead shortly after her two teammates dropped their first set. She missed out on her first opportunity serving for the match, but cashed in the second time around to win 6-2, 7-5.
Air Force avoided the shutout by taking down Ludivine Burguiere, who lost her first singles match since late February.
McKenna said the pressure had been building with so many wins, and said Air Force played a great match on court three. Burguiere showed a lot of heart coming back from an early deficit, but needs to focus on sticking to the game plan early.
Burguiere responded well after losing her first set, dominating the second set and looked like she would keep her win streak intact.
She held a sizable three-point lead several times in superset tiebreaker, but missed out on some crucial line calls. The run ended when she double-faulted on match point, losing to Elizabeth Barnickel, 6-4, 2-6, 1-0 (10-8).
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Bhat lost her first set and lost an early break, falling into a 3-0 hole. She fought back to tie the score at 4-4 and earned a huge break. Bhat closed out the set on her serve, forcing another superset tiebreaker.
Her tiebreak was almost the exact opposite. After falling behind 4-1, she only surrendered one point en route to completing her comeback victory, 4-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10-5).
The win gave the Lobos a 6-1 victory over Air Force. The team ends the regular season at 14-6 overall, with an untarnished 8-0 mark at home and a clean sweep in conference play, winning all five matches.
New Mexico will carry a seven-match win streak into Fort Collins, Colo. to defend its conference championship crown on April 27. The Lobos will find out its first opponent when the draws are released on Monday.
Robert Maler is a sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers cross country, tennis, and track and field. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @robert_maler.