By Brian Penso
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday October 29, 2002
Though the UA women's tennis team might use the fall season as a preseason for the spring, a strong showing in San Diego could have given the Wildcats a significant boost.
That is exactly what occurred for Arizona at the Omni Hotel West Regions Championship in San Diego.
The Wildcats joined UCLA and USC as the only schools to have three singles players make the round of 16.
That alone is a huge boost for Arizona as the Trojans and Bruins finished second and third respectively in the Pacific 10 Conference last season, which is considered the strongest tennis conference in the nation.
Sophomore Maja Mlakar led the way for the Wildcats as she advanced to the semifinals, but was defeated by USC's Jewel Peterson.
"Maja had a very good weekend," head coach Vicky Maes said. "She had a good chance to win but she lost. I was very pleased with her performance."
Peterson also defeated Arizona sophomore Diana Hollands en route to her matchup with Mlakar in the semifinals.
"Diane has higher expectations for herself," Maes said. "I look for her to have a better showing next time she plays.
Besides Mlakar, junior Debbie Larocque had a strong showing for the Wildcats.
Larocque advanced to the fourth round before she lost to Arizona State's top player Adria Engel 2-6, 7-5, 5-7.
After losing the first set, Larocque bounced back and had three match points against Engel, but she was unable to put her away.
"Debbie played a lot better," Maes said. "She played a really tough match against ASU's top player and almost pulled it out. It was a good showing for her.
The Wildcats return to practice this week in preparation for their next tournament on Nov. 8.
Mlakar and Larocque are expected to travel to the NCAA Indoor Championships in Dallas and the rest of the team will travel to Palm Springs, Calif compete in the Fall Desert Classic.
"During the next 10 days we need to work on our consistency," Maes said. "It is a perfect time for us to have a break from competition."