“We have to play in these conditions all the time anyway, so I just told the team to focus more on their footwork and try to control the ball and control the points as much as possible,” head coach Ivan Fernandez said.
After fighting through strong winds, the UTEP tennis team downed the UTPB Falcons 7-0 on Saturday at the El Paso Tennis and Swim Club. The Miners only dropped one match on the day, in doubles play, but swept the Falcons in singles play without dropping a set. UTEP is now 3-4 on the season while UTPB is 0-1.
“We have to play in these conditions all the time anyway, so I just told the team to focus more on their footwork and try to control the ball and control the points as much as possible,” head coach Ivan Fernandez said. “I knew that this team [UTPB] was going to come out fighting hard against us, but we needed to just withstand their attack. I think that we were able to do that in a lot of the matches.”
The Miners earned the doubles point to start the morning, beginning with a 6-0 win on court no. 6 by Milena Baigorria and Yvette Van Oijen over UTPB’s Amelie Saint-Dizier and Julia Ramalho at the no. 3 spot. In a tight match on court no. 1 at the top doubles spot, Raven Bennett and Chloe Purkiss kept pace with Eugenia Sanchez and Madison Hoetling, but fell 6-4. With the doubles point and the match lead on the line, Lois Wagenvoort and Maria Paula Medina battled Fernanda Orona and Maria Briones on court no. 3, at the no. 2 doubles position. The Miner tandem worked for a 6-3 victory to seal the doubles point and put their team up 1-0.
“I’ve got a veteran on no. 1 and no. 2 doubles, so I think it helps a lot having somebody in there with one of the younger players to kind of keep it under control,” Fernandez said. “Lois and M.P. [Medina] knew that it was down to them and even though they started pretty shaky, they were able to get it under control and close out that doubles point for us. I really wasn’t that worried that they weren’t going to close that out, but the fact that they were able to do it with less mistakes showed a lot of courage. UTPB played really intensively in no. 1 doubles, and they outplayed us. I’m not going to say that we played poorly, they just played better than us.”
The wind was picking up as singles play was underway, but Bennett still handled business with a 6-0, 6-1 straight-set victory over the Falcons’ Saint-Dizier at the no. 2 position. Shortly after, Purkiss wrapped up her match at the no. 3 spot with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Briones on court no. 3. UTEP freshman Erandi Martinez, who only played singles, battled UTPB’s Sanchez at the no. 5 spot, and handed her opponent a 6-0, 6-2 loss to clinch the match for the Miners.
Finishing out play, Medina overwhelmed the Falcons’ Jessica Madamba 6-2, 6-1, while Baigorria pulled out a 6-4 win in the first stanza and came back for a 6-2 triumph in set two to beat UTPB’s Ramalho. Senior Lois Wagenvoort was playing in a marathon of a match against Orona at the top singles spot. Wagenvoort was able to squeeze out a 7-6 set one victory, then a convincing 6-1 win in set two to end the match.
‘I think individually it helped with our confidence, the unfortunate thing is that when its this windy, they [players] don’t really get to feel the ball the same way or feel as comfortable,” Fernandez said. “Even though we got the wins, they [players] didn’t feel that great about their shot selection or how they really played. The bottom line is, we came out on top and we have to keep fighting every match. ”
The Miners will return to action on Feb. 25 when they host Tarleton State at the El Paso Tennis and Swim Club. First serve is set for 10 a.m. MST, admission is free.