PHOENIX, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona University Women's Tennis team finishes the 2017 season after falling to the University of Idaho in the Big Sky Conference Championship 4-3. The Lumberjacks end as regular season champions with an undefeated 11-0 regular season record. Despite the loss, Northern Arizona had one of its best seasons in program history finishing 18-5 overall.
"We had a great season and it came down to a moment or two this afternoon," Director of Tennis Ki Kroll said. "Today we played out very best, and we just came up short."
Northern Arizona started doubles with a 6-1 win from seniors Hailey Rochin and Marta Lewandowska before Idaho took the lead and clinched the doubles point 7-5, 7-6(7) at the No. 2 and No. 1 positions. Reigning MVP Marianna Petrei paired with Lucia Badillos to take on No. 63 nationally ranked Chiara Tomasetti and Blanka Szavay. The Idaho duo took the pair to a 9-7 tiebreak for the first time all season to clinch the doubles point.
After clinching doubles against the Lumberjacks, Petrei started singles off strong dominating over Hanneke Lodewijks at the No. 1 position 6-1, 6-1 to remain undefeated for two years straight in singles. Senior Blanka Szavay finished first for 'Jacks to put them just one point behind the Vandals at 2-1. Freshman Brandy Walker fell to Idaho next in what was a hard-fought match. Walker fell in the first set and almost came back in the second to push a 7-5 tiebreak score. With Idaho just one point away from a championship, Lewandowska and Tomasetti pulled off victories for the blue and gold to tie it up.
It came down to the third set with a tied 3-3 score between the two Big Sky Women's Tennis leaders where Rochin was taking on Claire Yang at the No. 6 position. At split sets, all eyes were on the court. Rochin fought until the very end, losing 6-3 in the final set to give Idaho their second straight Big Sky Championship.
"The seniors gave their heart today, and it's disappointing they didn't get this win," said Kroll. "However, it is important to look at the success of our program and how far we have come this season."
Northern Arizona returns four to the Lumberjack squad next season, after seniors Lewandowska, Rochin and Szavay graduate. NAU will aim for their first Big Sky Championship since 1999 going into the 2018 season.
- Marianna Badillos/Lucia Badillos (UI) def. Chiara Tomasetti/Blanka Szavay (NAU) 7-6(9-7)
- Jessica Brzozowska/Maria Tavares (UI) def. Hanneke Lodewijks/Brandy Walker (NAU) 7-5
- Marta Lewandowska/Hailey Rochin (NAU) def. Shion Watabe/Claire Yang (UI) 6-1
Order of finish: 3, 2, 1
- Marianna Petrei (UI) def. Hanneke Lodewijks (NAU) 6-1, 6-1
- Chiara Tomasetti (NAU) def. Jessica Brzozowska (UI) 6-2, 7-6(3)
- Blanka Szavay (NAU) def. Lucia Badillos (UI) 6-3, 6-1
- Maria Tavares (NAU) def. Brandy Walker (NAU) 6-1, 7-6(5)
- Marta Lewandowska (NAU) def. Shion Watabe (UI) 6-4, 6-4
- Claire Yang (UI) def. Hailey Rochin (NAU) 7-6(3), 2-6, 6-3
Order of finish: 1, 3, 4, 5, 2, 6
*Clinched the match