Cowgirls tennis narrowly falls in semifinals

Sophomore Elisa Koonik, prepares to hit the ball towards the opposing sides. (Photo courtesy of UW photo service)

The women’s tennis team record-setting season was ended by UNLV after reaching the semifinals in the Mountain West Championships.

The Cowgirls came into the tournament as the no. 4 overall seed and with a first-round bye, and started their weekend in Vegas strongly with a win over the no. 5 seed Nevada.

The team continued their expected doubles domination in the matchup with Nevada with two straight wins by the teams Magdalena Stencel/Milka Genkova and Dorottya Jonas/Ana Tkachenko to steal the early point in the matchup.

Tkachenko kept the momentum going and started the singles competitions off strongly with 6-4 and 6-1 wins over her opponent and secured an early 2-0 lead on Nevada. Jonas grabbed another point with scores of 7-5 and 6-4, but Nevada would take their first point with a win over Stencel and the score for the day at 3-1 in favor of UW. Nevada needed two wins to even the score, and looked to be coming back with a second straight win, but Elisa Koonik sealed the 4-2 victory with scores of 4-6, 6-3 and 7-5.

“We played our style of tennis which is what we talked about all week,” head coach Dean Clower said. “The team was determined and gutsy in singles today and that’s what it takes to win at this tournament.”

The next matchup for the Pokes came the following day against the top seeded UNLV Lady Rebels, who came into the faceoff riding the momentum of a decisive 4-0 victory over the eighth seeded Utah State.

The Pokes came out strong for the second day in a row, with the same Stencel/Genkova and Jonas/Tkachenko teams sealing their victories and taking the doubles point early.

UNLV took the first singles competition and evened the score with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Jonas, but UW answered with a 6-3, 6-1 score by Genkova to grab a 2-1 lead. The Lady Rebels struck back with two straight wins over Stencel and Tessa van Der Ploeg, and the Pokes fell to 2-3 on the day. Koonik defeated her opponent 6-4, 6-4 to even the overall score at three wins and put the fate of the day on the last matchup.

The final matchup was between Tkachenko and UNLV’s Jovana Kenic. Tkachenko started the matchup strong with a 7-5 win, but Kenic answered by winning the next two sets 6-3 and 6-1 to seal the victory for UNLV at 4-3 overall. This loss marked the second year in a row that the Cowgirls were eliminated by the Lady Rebels.

UNLV advanced to the championship, but was defeated decisively 0-4 by the no. 3 seed San Jose State.

The Cowgirls ended the season with an overall record of 18-4 and 5-0 in the conference. The team won all 10 home games and finished with the best single-season record in program history.

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