FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona women's tennis team will resume its spring season after a week off from competition with a three matches this weekend. The weekend kicks off with a match against UTEP in El Paso, Texas on Friday, followed by matches against Air Force and New Mexico State in Las Cruces, N.M., on Saturday and Sunday. This weekend will be the first of four sets of three matches in as many days this season for the Lumberjacks.
The Lumberjacks haven't competed since Jan.20, a 7-0 loss to UC Davis, but have used the last two weeks to shore up some of their flaws that were exposed in their season opening loss to the Aggies.
"We've worked on our ability to construct points smarter, hanging in points and showing toughness," said director of tennis Kim Bruno. "That's where we failed against UC Davis. These three matches coming up are really good matches for us. It's going to be a real tell-tale of where we are as a team. After two weeks off, the girls are ready and they've been looking forward to the next competition to see where we're at."
This weekend, NAU should have the services of junior Ghizelene Doballah, who missed the first match of the season, to bolster their lineup that claimed just one set in singles play, won by junior Alice Pacaut, in the UC Davis match. The freshmen duo of Hannah Stone and Johanna Vang will also look to build off their solid debuts in which they won their doubles match at No. 2 in an 8-1 fashion.
UTEP (1-2), the Lumberjacks' first opponent this weekend, will be playing their home opener after playing their first three matches on the road. After starting out 0-2, the Miners most recently defeated Big Sky foe Northern Colorado, 5-2, last Saturday.
Like UTEP, Air Force (1-1) also has a victory over Northern Colorado this season for their lone win thus far this season. The Falcons haven't competed since blanking the Bears, 7-0, on Jan. 21.
New Mexico State (1-2) have also been on a hiatus after playing three straight matches in Las Vegas, Nev. to open the season. Sandwiched between losses to UNLV and Pacific, the Aggies earned a victory over Weber State, yet another Big Sky opponent, by a score of 6-1.
All three of this weekend's opponents are familiar faces to the Lumberjacks. Although NAU is just 2-2 against Air Force, with the Falcons shutting out the Lumberjacks 7-0 in their last meeting in 2006, the women have faced both UTEP and New Mexico State five times over the last five seasons. NAU is 2-3 in those meetings with the Miners and 9-11 all-time. On the other hand, the Lumberjacks are 4-1 against the Aggies since 2007, but are still down 9-14 all-time to NMSU. NAU defeated UTEP, 4-3, and New Mexico State, 7-0 last season. Their 7-0 win over the Aggies last year was the only match not to be decided by a 4-3 margin in the teams' last five meetings.
"It's going to be a tough weekend," Bruno said. "We always have a battle with these schools. We're going to have to play really well as a team. Our goal this weekend is to be a team that teams have to beat us off the court. If someone beats us that's fine, we just don't want to destroy ourselves with unforced errors. We want to be the team that does everything in our power to win."
Friday's match against UTEP to begin the three-match slate is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start at the El Paso Tennis Club.