No. 2 New Mexico Defeats No. 5 Wyoming 4-2 To Win First-Ever Mountain West Women's Tennis Championship
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – In a battle of programs searching for their first-ever Mountain West Women’s Tennis Championship, New Mexico got a heart-stopping clinching win from Natasha Smith, the team’s lone senior, to defeat Wyoming 4-2 and win its first Conference title in the program’s history. The championship match was held in the Linda Estes Tennis Center’s Indoor Courts due to inclement weather.
The win avenged a 4-3 loss to Wyoming on April 10 in Laramie that was the first Conference loss of the season for the Lobos. New Mexico will be making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since the 2006 season.
The second-seeded Lobos opened with a sweep of doubles to grab an early 1-0 lead, and then went up 2-0 when Rachana Bhat picked up a 6-4, 6-3 victory at No. 5 singles. Wyoming answered on court three as Dorottya Jonas won 6-4, 6-3.
The Lobos then got a huge win at No. 1 singles as Emily Olivier bounced back from a straight set loss yesterday to post a 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) win over Magdalena Stencel. That meant the Lobos could clinch on any of the three remaining courts, and they almost did it quickly on court four.
At No. 4, Dominique Dulski was up 5-4 in the third set and had break point for the title at 40-40, but Jessica Parizher muscled home an ace to even the set up. Parizher, knowing she had to win, then broke Dulski and won on her third match point for a 6-3, 0-6, 7-5 win and make it 3-2.
The drama moved to No. 2 singles, where UNM’s Smith and Wyoming’s Nastya Tokareva were locked in an epic showdown. Smith won the opening set 7-5, and then Tokareva bounced back to win 6-4 in the second. At 40-40 in the ninth game, Tokareva broke Smith for a 5-4 lead, but Smith rebounded with a break of her own for a 5-5 tie. Both players held serve and to a tiebreaker it went.
Through the first eight points, each player won on serve receive, making it 4-4. Smith then got the point she needed on a forehand winner for a 5-4 lead. Smith then broke Tokareva’s serve twice to win, giving UNM the title.
“It’s poetic for ’Tasha to get the clincher for us. She has been asked to do so much for our program,” said New Mexico head coach Erica Perkins Jasper. “This is just huge for our program. I had such respect for the program under Kathy Kolankiewicz from when I was a player, so to coach this team and win the conference and get to the tournament is really a dream come true.”
New Mexico improved to 16-9 and will learn where they will play in the NCAA Tournament on Tuesday. Wyoming ends its season 15-6.
NOTES: New Mexico had lost in last year’s championship match to Fresno State … Perkins Jasper is now 5-2 as a coach in the MW Tournament … Wyoming was also looking for its first Mountain West Tennis Tournament championship.