GREELEY, Colo. – The Northern Arizona women's tennis team began the Big Sky season as well as it possibly could, sweeping all nine matches and shutting out Northern Colorado, 7-0, Sunday in a matchup of two of the four qualifying teams from last year's Big Sky Championship.
"The girls really came to play today," said director of tennis Kim Bruno. "This was one of the top-four teams in the conference coming off from last year and they always play tough at home. Every single player played excellent tennis, executed our game plan and I couldn't be happier with our performance today."
Seniors Alice Pacaut and Malia Wahinepio continued their recent string of strong doubles play by opening Sunday's action in Greeley with their fifth consecutive victory. The Lumberjacks proceeded to win at the remaining two spots to take a 1-0 lead in the match and they were just getting started.
NAU would win five of the six singles matches in straight-sets and did not drop more than three games in a set in each of those five matches. Sophomores Johanna Vang and Hannah Stone and Wahinepio quickly wrapped up their respective matches to seal up the win for the Lumberjacks before the other half of the lineup finished the day off with their own victories. Northern Colorado was only to take one set on the day from NAU and that came at the No. 5 position where senior Alice Pacaut eventually prevailed in three sets.
While Vang and senior Nicole Perez extended their personal win streaks to six and five matches respectively, senior Ghizelene Doballah and Stone – the Lumberjacks' top-two players in the lineup – broke through with their first wins of the season which was a big boost to the team.
"It was a big monkey off of their backs," Bruno said. "All of their teammates were cheering for them and it was important for them to get their first wins of the season. The whole environment really changed once Hannah and Ghizelene clinched their matches. They've kept at it and knew they could win once conference time came."
The Lumberjacks and the Bears were once again picked among the top-four heading into the season with the Big Sky coaches voting NAU second and Northern Colorado fourth.
NAU, now 4-5 overall and 1-0 in the Big Sky, wraps up its three-match stretch with a rare Monday match in Boulder, Colo. where they will face Colorado at 10 a.m. The Buffaloes of the Pac-12 is 4-3 this season.
1. Hannah Stone/Johanna Vang (NAU) def. Stephanie Catlin/Elizabeth Tapia (UNC), 8-7
2. Ghizelene Doballah/Nicole Perez (NAU) def. Chrissie Hoolahan/Claire Uhle (UNC), 8-6*
3. Alice Pacaut/Malia Wahinepio (NAU) def. Jennifer Buchanan/Hilary Walters-West (UNC), 8-4
*Clinched Doubles Point
Order of Finish: (3, 2, 1)
1. Doballah (NAU) def. Buchanan (UNC), 6-1, 6-3
2. Stone (NAU) def. Tapia (UNC), 6-0, 6-3
3. Vang (NAU) def. Catlin (UNC), 6-2, 6-0
4. Wahinepio (NAU) def. Hoolahan (UNC), 6-2, 6-2**
5. Pacaut (NAU) def. Uhle (UNC), 3-6, 6-3, 1-0 (10-4)
6. Perez (NAU) def. Walters-West (UNC), 6-3, 6-2
Order of Finish: (3, 2, 4, 1, 6, 5)