By Craig Sanders
Arizona Daily Wildcat
The UA women's tennis team may have lost its first match of the season this weekend, but that is fine by them.
Arizona (8-1 overall, 3-1 in the Pacific 10 Conference) lost to third-ranked Stanford 7-2 Friday, but bounced back to defeat fourth-ranked Cal 5-4 Saturday.
The Wildcats ran into a brick wall against Stanford Ä which made it to last year's national title game before losing to eventual champion Georgia. The UA was soundly beaten in singles, with the only win coming from sophomore Stephanie Sammaritano, who defeated Kim Shasby 2-6, 7-6, 7-5. The Cardinal's Katie Schlukebir continued to roll as she took down freshman Vicky Maes, Arizona's No. 1 singles player, 6-2, 6-3.
One of Arizona's only shining moments came when Maes teamed up with fellow newcomer Eva Maria Schurhoff to win the No. 1 doubles match against the Stanford duo of Ania Blesznyski and Schlukebir 1-6, 7-5, 6-3. The Wildcat duo rebounded from early troubles to outlast the Cardinal duo down the stretch. The win kept the team of Maes and Schurhoff undefeated on the season.
"I didn't know what to expect when we faced Stanford," Schurhoff said. "Their team was just so good. We just had to go out and play hard the next day."
Almost immediately after the Wildcats were gunned down by one of the top five teams in the nation than another one came knocking at their door. The Bears brought their fourth-ranked record into town and found themselves up against the surprising tenacity this Arizona team has shown all season.
The Wildcats took this match from the bottom up. Maes, Schurhoff and Sammaritano may have dropped all of their singles matches, but Arizona's third through sixth positions picked up the slack. The Wildcats have had great depth all season and when Angela Bernal, Melody Falco and Betsy Miringoff each won in straight-set victories over the opposition, the stage was set for showdowns in doubles play.
The first came when Maes and Schurhoff came up against one of the top doubles teams in the nation. The Wildcats needed to win two of the three doubles matches to break the 3-3 deadlock. Keirsten Alley and Pam Nelson came in with a career 17-3 record in doubles play and were 3-0 on the season.
The Wildcat women went to work. They used the strength of their net play and their aggressive baseline tactics to eliminate the Cal team 7-5 in the first set and 6-2 in the next.
"Winning against Cal was perfect," Schurhoff said. "We came out confident and alive and we won. Vicky and I just want to have fun out there. We are trying our hardest and we are confident. That is why we are successful."
When Arizona's doubles team of Falco and Sammaritano got dropped by Vera Vitels and Miko Ando 6-7, 0-6 in the second match, the outcome turned to the match between Arizona's Bernal-Miringoff and Jennifer and Valerie Poulos of Cal.
The Wildcats were again up to the task. They battled through a tough first set 7-6 and then strode through the second set 6-1, giving Arizona a 5-4 victory.
"I've been in that situation before," Bernal said. "It was really no big deal. We came out and got them early in the second set. We can't get overconfident though. One injury could change the whole season."
Next up for Arizona are the ITCA Team Indoors in Madison, Wis., which will be held Feb. 23-26.
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