OGDEN, Utah – After playing a big role in helping the Northern Arizona women's tennis team extend its win streak to seven matches, senior Ghizelene Doballah was honored by the Big Sky Conference office on Tuesday with her first women's tennis Player of the Week honor of the season. The weekly honor is the second of her career for the Oran, Algeria native as she also received the award last season as a junior.
"Ghizelene hasn't gotten as many wins as some of the players on the team so it's been a little frustrating for her but she's been able to gut it out and stick with her game," said director of tennis Kim Bruno. "This Player of the Week award is well deserved. She's worked hard and being able to step up to the top of our lineup is tough. This speaks to her determination and work ethic."
Doballah was perfect during the Lumberjacks' 3-0 weekend in Flagstaff, winning all three of her doubles matches as well as all three of her singles matches in NAU's wins over Eastern Washington, Idaho State and UT-Pan American. In doubles, Doballah and her partner, senior Nicole Perez, pushed their personal doubles win streak to seven matches with three wins at No. 2, all by an 8-4 margin or better. Against Eastern Washington last Friday and UT-Pan American on Monday, Doballah and Perez's victories clinched the doubles point for the Lumberjacks, providing the team the early 1-0 advantage heading into singles.
Doballah also went undefeated in singles play as she picked up two wins at No. 2 and a three-set win at No. 1 versus Idaho State. Her 6-1, 6-2, win over Eastern Washington's Chrissy Uriarte on Friday and her 6-4, 6-1, win over UT-Pan American's Dana Nazarova on Monday, both at No. 2 singles, set the tone for the Lumberjacks as she was the first to complete her match in both contests. But her signature win of the weekend was her gritty three-set win versus Idaho State's Marian Tangarife. Having to combat Tangarife's defensive style of play, Doballah fought her way to a 6-3, 4-6, 1-0 (10-6) win on Saturday.
Doballah's singles record now sits at 8-13 overall and 4-2 versus Big Sky opponents. Seven of her eight wins have come in her last 10 matches. She reached 10 doubles wins with her win on Monday and she is now 10-9 overall and 5-1 in the conference with Perez. During the team's current win streak, Doballah is 6-1 in singles and 7-0 in doubles.
"She's building confidence and when Ghizelene gets some confidence, she starts rolling through matches," Bruno said. "She didn't get to play as many fall tournaments so that had a little to do with her slow start, but now that she has some wins under her belt, she's confident in her game again. I think we're going to continue to see her succeed."
Doballah becomes the third different Lumberjack to be named the Big Sky's Player of the Week following senior Malia Wahinepio and sophomore Hannah Stone. NAU last had three different players named Player of the Week in the same season in 2011.
The Lumberjacks (13-8 overall, 5-1 Big Sky) hope to continue their winning ways this weekend at Montana State on Saturday and at Montana on Sunday.