FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Beginning on Wednesday, four members of the Northern Arizona women's tennis team will take on the top players in the region at the ITA Mountain Regional Championships to be held at UNLV's Fertitta Tennis Complex. The Lumberjacks will be one of 20 teams from throughout the mountain region competing in the championships which will run from Wednesday through Sunday.
"All of the girls really look forward to this tournament," said director of tennis Kim Bruno. "This is the premier tournament of the year. Coming off the first two tournaments this fall, there's no reason why we can't do some damage in this tournament. I truly believe that if the girls play at the level they've been playing, we're going to do well."
Seniors Malia Wahinepio and Alice Pacaut and sophomores Hannah Stone and Johanna Vang will represent the Lumberjacks among over 120 players this week. For Pacaut and Vang, this will be their first go-around at the regional championships, while Stone will be making her second appearance and Wahinepio will be making her fourth at the annual championships. In addition to competing in the singles draw, Stone and Vang, NAU's No. 2 doubles team in the spring, and Pacaut and Wahinepio will play as doubles pairs.
Last year as a freshman, Stone had an impressive debut at the tournament, winning each of her first two matches to advance to the round of 32 before falling to New Mexico's Michaela Bezdickova, the fifth-seeded player in the draw. She finished her first regional championships with a 2-1 singles record, one better than Wahinepio who posted a 1-2 mark last year. As a team, the Lumberjacks were 4-7 in singles play and 1-2 in doubles play a year ago.
All four of the Lumberjacks will be making their second appearance of the fall season, with Stone, Vang and Wahinepio all competing at the UNLV Invitational two and a half weeks ago. Pacaut made her fall debut at the Aggie Invitational in Las Cruces, N.M. the week earlier and has a team-best four singles wins this fall.
NAU will be one of six Big Sky squads competing at the tournament this week. In total, the Lumberjacks will play 10 of the 20 competing teams during the spring with Big Sky opponents – Idaho State, Montana, Montana State, Northern Colorado and Weber State – as well as non-conference foes – Air Force, Colorado, Colorado State, New Mexico and New Mexico State – appearing on the spring 2013 schedule. With this in mind, the regional championships will also be an opportunity for the team to see how they stack up with its regional counterparts at the midway point of the fall season.
"A lot of teams competing this weekend are on our spring schedule, so it's very important to see how we match up with them and to see where we need to be," Bruno said.
The singles and doubles champions from the region will advance to the ITA National Indoor Championships in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., which will take place Nov. 8-11.
Play will begin on Wednesday at 9 a.m. with first and second round singles matches scheduled for the first day. Doubles play will begin on Thursday.
ITA Mountain Regional Championships Participating Teams:
|Boise State||New Mexico*|
|Brigham Young||New Mexico State*|
|Colorado State*||Northern Colorado*|
|Idaho State*||Utah State|
*Denotes Spring 2013 Opponent