After a month of home matches, the UTEP tennis team (4-6 overall, 0-1 Conference USA) will embark on a week-long tour of Florida March 12-19 where it is set to take on five teams in seven days.
The Miners will start the competitive slate with two matches in Tampa, Fla., first against South Florida on March 12 at 11 a.m. MST and finishing the next day with a 9 a.m. MST neutral-site battle with Cincinnati. UTEP will then head to Boca Raton, Fla. for a Conference USA matchup against Florida Atlantic on March 15. First serve against the Owls is 12 p.m. MST. A short drive to Davie, Fla. on March 17 will set up a matchup with Broward College, slated for 8 a.m. MST. The Miners will round out the trip with another league contest against no. 43 FIU, with first serve set for 11 a.m. MST.
UTEP is coming off a 4-1 point-clinch loss to Wyoming last Sunday at the El Paso Tennis and Swim Club, but saw a singles win from Chloe Purkiss. The freshman took out the Cowgirls’ Myiah Scott in straight-sets (6-1, 6-1) for her fifth singles win of the season. The Miners also got a win from Erandi Martinez during their March 2 match against UT Arlington, when the rookie defeated the Mavericks’ Anna Wichert (6-1, 7-5) for her sixth singles win in dual match play.
South Florida (5-7 overall, 1-0 AAC) is riding a three match winning streak with wins over Western Michigan, Michigan State and Memphis outscoring all three schools by a combined 14-5 score. Nicole Dzenga and Vanja Klaric have tallied six wins as a pair, posting a 2-4 record at the top spot and a 4-2 record at the no. 2 position. Dzenga also boasts a team-best 7-3 singles record, playing primarily at the no. 6 spot where she holds a 4-2 mark.
Cincinnati (7-6 overall, 1-1 AAC) has dropped three-straight competitive matches by a point, losing 4-3 to Temple, Marshall and VCU. The Bearcats’ freshman Emma Miceli is on a four-match winning streak in singles play at the no. 5 spot, while Ioana Guna and Caroline Morton notched the only doubles win against VCU for the Cincinnati at the no. 1 spot.
A Conference USA foe Florida Atlantic (6-4-2 overall, 1-1 C-USA) will meet with Richmond and Syracuse before meeting with the Miners, but the Owls have won two straight against league opponent LA Tech (5-2) and Georgetown (6-1). Dominating for the Owls is Aliona Bolsova, ranked no. 6 in the nation in singles play, who has earned an 11-0 mark overall and a flawless 9-0 in dual match play at the top spot for FAU. The Owls have also found success in Natalia Boltinskaya and her 7-2 record at the no. 2 position. Bolsova also teams up with Jemi Aguilar to make up the no. 1 doubles tandem, holding a 5-2 dual match record.
Broward (1-4 overall) is rated 10th in the Oracle ITA/NJCAA Rankings released on Jan. 25. The Seahawks finished the 2017 season rated fourth in the final rankings. The Seahawks are paced by team captain Bianca Vitale, who has a 3-1 mark at the no. 2 position in singles play, as well as Camille Portalier with a 4-0 mark at the no. 4 spot. The two also combine for the no. 2 tandem for the Seahawks in doubles play and hold a 3-1 record.
FIU (6-1 overall, 2-0 C-USA) will end its four-match homestand against UTEP and have won five in a row, including league wins over Marshall and North Texas. The Panthers are ranked no. 43 in ITA national rankings and boast the nation’s no. 4 player in Andrea Lazaro as well as the no. 9 ranked doubles tandem in Ulyana Grib and Maryna Veksler. Lazaro is 5-2 on the year, while Grib and Veksler are 4-1 on the year.