Women's Tennis gets 2nd chance at 1st home meet

By Matt Bassin
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, January 27, 2005

After being rained out last weekend, the Arizona women's tennis team gets a second chance for playing its first home meet of the 2005 season.

The No. 42 Wildcats face the University of Texas-El Paso Miners today at 1:30 p.m. at LaNelle Robson Tennis Center.

The match will be part of a dual-meet over the weekend featuring Arizona, UTEP and No. 39 Sacramento State.

The Wildcats and Hornets will play Saturday at noon, while both visiting schools meet up tomorrow.

The Robson Center has been a friendly place for Arizona in January, as the Wildcats have not lost a home-opening dual match since 1994.

The Wildcats have faced UTEP only twice before today, their most recent match being a 7-2 win by UA in 2000. Arizona defeated UTEP 9-0 in 1985.

UTEP finished 2004 with a 10-12 record, 1-4 in the Western Athletic Conference. The last time the Miners were ranked was when they were No. 64 in March 2002.

This is the first time Arizona has ever faced Sacramento State, though the players share a history. The Hornets' No. 17 Margarita Karnaukhova defeated Arizona's No. 23 Dianne Hollands, 6-2, 6-0, in the fall.

"She (Hollands) was struggling with her confidence," said UA head coach Vicky Maes. "She shouldn't have lost that match."

The Hornets finished 2004 with a 23-4 record and 6-0 in the Big Sky Conference, before being knocked out of the NCAA Tournament in the first round by Fresno State.

Karnaukhova is one of two nationally ranked players for the Hornets, including No. 61 Anna Erikson.

Expectations have been high all season for the Wildcats. Hollands was the No. 7 singles player in the country before the start of the season, but finished the fall with a 7-7 record.

As a doubles team, Hollands and teammate Maja Mlakar, who is ranked No. 63, were ranked No. 1 in the nation; the duo finished the fall 6-5.

"I'm not disappointed with our team," Maes said. "We had to deal with injuries and new changes in the fall. Team play is very different from individual play. I'm sensing a different and exciting energy from when we played in the fall."

Maes said she is also confident because of how well the team played last week against NAU.

"I know it was a match we were supposed to win, but we won quicker and more convincing than I had thought we would," she said.