Tennis recap: Current Aggies top former Aggies, 6-1

Feb. 18, 2012

By Zak Gilbert
Athletic Media Relations

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – CSU got stellar play from a true freshman, but struggled against a rested New Mexico State squad in a 6-1 loss Saturday night at Miramont Lifestyle Fitness in front of 109 fans.

The loss marked the last scheduled indoor appearance in Fort Collins for CSU (2-4, 0-0 Mountain West), as the Rams’ next home competition is April 1 at the outdoor University Tennis Complex. CSU wore orange, its former school color, as a tribute to the institution’s past when the program was known as the Colorado A&M Aggies.

The NMSU Aggies (4-3, 0-0 Western Athletic), which upset ranked  Florida International earlier this year, secured the doubles point thanks to a pair of paper-thin wins, then used a dramatic victory at No. 1 singles to deny the Rams of the team victory.

CSU’s lone win came from Natalie Heffron at No. 3 singles. Head Coach Jon Messick especially was impressed by Heffron.

“She’s a five-star recruit,” he said. “She’s been solid all year, in the fall and the spring. She just has a mindset that’s all business. She just plays. If we can get everybody on that page with her, we’ll be in great shape.”

Heffron spotted her opponent, Ginet Pinero, a 3-0 lead in the first set, then reeled off six straight to win the frame, and 12 of the final 15 tallies to claim the match in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3, in one hour, 20 minutes. Heffron’s win, her third straight singles victory, evened the team score at 1-1. A true freshman from Atlanta, Ga., she now has won six consecutive sets.

“The word I use to describe her is relentless,” Messick said. “She’ll play a long point, then win or lose, she’ll come back and play another long point, and another long point. She does not stop.”

In the premier matchup of the night at No. 1 singles, the Aggies’ Manon Sylvain outlasted CSU’s Tori Arneson battled through a marathon first-set tiebreaker before falling, 10-8. Arneson then went up by a couple points in the second set, only to sustain a painful 7-6, 7-5 loss, which clinched the team victory for NMSU.

No. 2 player Lauren Mulhern cruised to a 6-2 victory in the first set, then lost consecutive frames. No. 4 player Kayley Schultz jumped out to a lead in her second set, but lost momentum in a two-set defeat.

And while the Rams lost their second match is as many nights, Messick saw the team more improved compared to Friday, a loss to Idaho.

“I think we played better from the technical standpoint,” he said. “But we didn’t take advantage of the opportunities we had. We were ahead in both sets at No. 1, ahead at No. 4 and we won the first set at No. 2. Those matches alone, if we take advantage of those leads, we win tonight. But we didn’t capitalize on those chances.”

In doubles, NMSU captured the first team point after Pinero and Ros-Polly Nguyen overcame an early deficit to turn away Adriana and Veronika Wojakowska, 8-6, at the No. 3 position. The Aggies’ Jodie Williams and Natalia Salum beat CSU’s Arneson and Schultz at No. 1, 8-2.

The Rams now head to Lincoln, Neb., to meet Wichita State and Nebraska next weekend. They then spend a couple weeks in Southern California, including the beginning of conference play in San Diego, before returning home to face Boise State outdoors at the University Tennis Complex April 1.

Saturday’s results
No. 1: Sylvain (NMSU) def. Arneson (CSU), 7-6 (8), 7-5
No. 2: Van der Ben (NMSU) def. Mulhern (CSU), 2-6, 6-1, 6-2
No. 3: Heffron (CSU) def. Pinero (NMSU), 6-3, 6-3
No. 4: Salum (NMSU) def. Schultz (CSU), 6-3, 6-4
No. 5: Nguyen (NMSU) def. A.Wojakowska (CSU), 5-7, 6-3, 1-0 (5)
No. 6: Witte (NMSU) def. Pick (CSU), 6-0, 6-3
Order of finish: 3, 4, 2, 1, 6, 5

Williams/Salum (NMSU) def. Arneson/Schultz (CSU), 8-2
Sylvain/Van der Ben (NMSU) def. Kardhordo/Mulhern (CSU), 9-8 (7)
Pinero/Nguyen (NMSU) def. A.Wojakowska/V.Wojakowska, 8-6
Order of finish: 1, 3, 2