Home court sweep gives Arizona women's tennis team invitational

By Craig Sanders

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Arizona women's tennis team won all three of their matches last weekend en route to a sweep of the 49th annual Arizona Invitational held at the Robson Tennis Center. The three-day event saw Arizona defeat Iowa Friday, No. 36 Rice Saturday and 19th-ranked UC-Santa Barbara Sunday. The Wildcats improved to 5-0 on the season with the three-day sweep.

"I was really happy with our performance this weekend," UA coach Becky Bell said. "We played really well as a team. Iowa wasn't very strong, but that gave Vicky Maes and Eva Maria Schurhoff a chance to get matches in. We played real strong matches against both Rice and Santa Barbara. I think we're mentally prepared."

Friday, the Wildcats used strong performances by the entire team as they blew by Iowa 7-1. Maes played in the No. 1 singles position for the first time this year and won a tough match against Laura Dvorak in two sets 6-4, 6-4. Schurhoff continued to make her presence known as she took care of Iowa's Sasha Boros 6-1, 6-1. The doubles team of Maes and Schurhoff teamed up to defeat Dvorak and Nikki Willette 3-6, 6-0, 6-4.

Angela Bernal sat out Friday to nurse a lower-back injury she suffered during the Pacific 10 Conference Indoor Championships last week. The team didn't miss a beat as all of the Wildcats won in straight sets except walk-on Erin Pavelko, who lost in the sixth position to Robin Niemeirer 6-3, 6-0.

Arizona continued its dominance Saturday as they flew by the Rice Owls 8-1. The Wildcats only lost one set in singles play as Bernal lost 6-0 to Vessie Ivanova. Bernal quickly regained her form as she took the next two sets 6-2, 6-4. Maes and Schurhoff won both of their matches easily and Arizona continued to show its depth as Stephanie Sammaritano defeated Amber Basica 6-2, 6-4, and Melody Falco took down Jessica Gagnon 6-1, 6-3.

Arizona's doubles teams found the road a little rougher as the No. 1 and 2 positions both won tough matches. Maes and Schurhoff took down Antonette Veloso and Paula Myslivecek of Rice 6-4, 6-4 and Sammaritano and Falco battled past Basica and Ivanova 6-3, 6-2. The No. 3-seeded team of Olga Limon and Jessica Gagnon defeated Arizona's Pavelko and Betsy Miringoff 6-2, 6-3.

The final day of action saw the 17th-ranked Wildcats match up against the 19th-ranked Gauchos of UCSB. Arizona looked as if it would again roll to an easy team victory as it took the first four matches. The early matches were highlighted by Sammaritano's 7-5, 6-3 performance against Kathy Peterson in the No. 3 position. Sammaritano showed great presence on her serve and at the net.

"It was a tough match," Sammaritano said. "I was playing well. It's the first time I'm playing the No. 3 position consistently. I've had hamstring problems, but today I could do it. As a team I think we are where we need to be."

Maes may not have agreed with that statement, showing flashes of brilliance at times and committing demoralizing mistakes at others. Jean Okada of UCSB battled fatigue to put away Arizona's No. 1 player 6-4, 7-6. Okada played the waiting game as she continued to lob deep baseline shots in hopes of luring Maes into an error. Maes' frustration led her to send shots into the top of the net. She seemed at her best when on the run. At a critical point, she went skidding across the court one way and sent a slicing shot across her body to win the point.

"I was confident coming in, but I just didn't play well," Maes said. "I feel the pressure of the team on me. I'm used to playing for myself. That's why I scream and make silly mistakes. I have to find my game."

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