FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Junior Alice Pacaut's recent resurgence has been a bright spot for the Northern Arizona women's tennis team as she's won three of her last five singles matches and four of her last five doubles matches. She'll look to continue on her upward swing when the Lumberjacks host New Mexico at Continental Country Club on Saturday at 12 p.m.
The junior transfer from Eyguieres, France came to the Lumberjacks after a sophomore season where she posted an 18-7 singles mark and 17-4 doubles mark and helped Stephen F. Austin to a 20-5 record, which was the best in school history for wins and winning percentage. Pacaut, in her first season at NAU, is currently tied for second on the team with five singles wins to her name despite starting the season 2-5. In doubles, she began the spring by dropping six of her first seven matches before her recent streak while teaming with three separate partners, juniors Ghizelene Doballah and Alice Walker and freshman Hannah Stone.
"Alice struggled at the beginning of the season and she finally found herself," said director of tennis Kim Bruno. "She's playing her game. Before she was in between a bunch of players that I wasn't sure was her. She was going too big too soon and then she would be a little tentative at times. But she's feeling comfortable playing the way she needs to play now, a little more counterpunch, waiting for opportunities and taking advantage of them."
Despite Pacaut's recent success, the Lumberjacks dropped all three of their matches last weekend, including their first conference loss of the season. After falling to No. 64 UNLV and Nevada, the Lumberjacks hosted No. 71 Sacramento State in their first home match of the season, but failed to grab a win in the matchup of the Big Sky's top two teams.
Freshman Johanna Vang claimed the team's only point in its 6-1 loss to Sacramento State on Sunday with a win at No. 5 singles, and she was just one of two Lumberjacks to win a singles match last weekend with Pacaut earning a win against Nevada. Vang's win pushed her singles record to a team-best 6-4, but the team hopes to get production across the board, something they were unable to do in their recent three losses.
"We have to figure out how to play at a higher level," Bruno said. "There are those players that are getting better and better. We have to take the successes of those people and build on that and overcome the failures of some of the others in order for us to get to where we need to be. That's the missing link."
New Mexico enters Saturday's match with a 5-3 overall record, with wins against fellow Big Sky opponents Montana and Montana State this season. They are coming off a 1-1 weekend after splitting with UTEP and Idaho last week. Michaela Bezdickova and Susanna Kuuttila each have a 5-3 record in singles play, while the duo has combined for a 3-1 record in doubles. Katie Wookey also has a perfect 4-0 singles record for the Lobos this season.
The Lumberjacks lost to the Lobos last season in Albuquerque, N.M., 5-2, and is just 1-16 all-time against New Mexico. However, the Lumberjacks' lone win came in 2009 when they upset the Lobos, then ranked No. 50, on the road, 4-3.
Admission is free for all fans for all home tennis matches this season at Continental Country Club.