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Tuesday April 24, 2001

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Women's tennis gears up for conference championships

By Dan Komyati

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Cats' status for NCAA Tournament remains unknown

After dropping its final six matches of the year, the UA women's tennis team no longer controls its path into the NCAA Tournament.

Arizona's fate for the team championships will remain a mystery until the brackets are revealed May 3 by the tournament selection committee.

The Wildcats were unable to improve on their lone Pacific 10 Conference win during the season finale at Arizona State this weekend in Tempe.

After enduring rainy skies and wind Saturday, the Wildcats were unable to weather the storm brought on by their in-state rival, falling 5-2 when play resumed Sunday.

The No. 10 Sun Devils (17-5 overall, 8-5 Pac-10) improved to 14-1 at the Whiteman Tennis Center and swept both matches with Arizona this year.

UA's struggles within the Pac-10 continued, which isn't a good sign for a team that will leave tomorrow for the conference championships in Ojai, Calif.

After being swept in all three doubles matches, the Wildcats started strong in singles play with junior Sophie Regnier defeating Karin Palme, 6-2, 6-3. However, Arizona could only come up with one more victory - a win by freshman Perrine Pernin against Mhairi Brown, 6-4, 4-6 (10-6 ) - in the match.

In what may have been her last dual match with the Wildcats, senior captain Michelle Gough dropped a match to Faye Devera 6-4, 6-2. A four-year starter at Arizona, Gough has felt her ups and downs this season much like the rest of her teammates.

"ASU is a really tough team, we gave it our best shot," Gough said. "We had higher expectations this season, and I think overall we really underachieved as a team."

Fellow senior Joanna Buczkowska had to default her final match at No. 6 singles due to an injury. Her status for the Pac-10 championships is unknown.

UA head coach Brad Dancer - a man who has witnessed a career's worth of trying defeats this season - said he is eagerly anticipating the California trip and competing in the Pac-10 Championships.

"We get to play in this classic event," Dancer said. "It will be the first trip for three of our girls, and I'm sure that it will be an experience that no one will forget."

Everything Arizona was unable to achieve against its Pac-10 opponents this year could become a distant memory with a strong showing in Ojai.

"Our season's not over yet," Gough optimistically pointed out. "Everything boils down to how you perform in the postseason."