The UTEP tennis team fell 5-2 against Northern Arizona University on Sunday at the El Paso Tennis and Swim Club. The Miners notched two hard-fought singles wins, but the Lumberjacks ran away with the match to move to 3-2 on the season while the Miners dropped to 2-4.
“I feel like we were a little bit intimidated by this team,just because of how vocal they were and their energy,” head coach Ivan Fernandez said. “I think that kept us from getting off to the starts that we wanted.
Raven Bennett and Erandi Martinez put the Miners on the board with their singles victories, each with a 10-point tie-breaking set. Bennett battled Brandy Walker at the no. 3 position and dropped the first set 7-5 before storming back for a 6-3 victory in the second stanza and the decisive 10-2 tie-breaker. Martinez, the last Miner playing in a match that lasted more than an hour, took on NAU’s Ellie Millard at the no. 5 position. Martinez dropped a shaky 7-6 set in the first frame, but kept composure for a 6-4 win in the second set. In another evenly-matched game, Martinez fought for the 10-4 tie-breaker to earn her third win in dual-match play.
“I’m really happy for Raven to come back to win this match and to be able to make some corrections from Friday’s match, which she lost and it really crushed her, and be able to pull that win off,” Fernandez said. “Erandi is going to fight every single match, I just hope that she’s able to stay healthy because she does have to do a lot of running, and I just wish she wouldn’t make the matches more complicated than they need to be. She [Martinez] started the match okay, but she needed to play with a little more confidence from the very beginning.”
To start the morning, Lois Wagenvoort and Maria Paula Medina were tested on court no. 1 at the no. 1 position for doubles when they met with NAU’s no. 56 nationally-ranked Walker and Eirene Granville. The Miner tandem stayed competitive in the match, but fell 6-4. UTEP freshman duo Martinez and Alisa Morozova were paired at the no. 3 doubles position against Chiara Tomasetti and Madi Moore. The rookies were able to notch three points, but the Lumberjacks closed the game at 6-3. Bennett and Chloe Purkiss, who have garnered two dual match wins when paired, battled Hanneke Lodewijks and Millard at the no. 2 spot, but fell 6-0. The Lumberjacks won the doubles point.
“I knew that this team was very experienced and very tough coming into this match” Fernandez said. “I tried a brand new combination today at no. 1 with Lois [Wagenvoort] and M.P. [Medina] and the fact that they were able to compete that tough against a nationally-ranked team kind of showed me that that’s probably a good move to make for now. I really thought that number two and number three doubles would compete a little bit better and just give us a little bit more opportunity to get into the match.”
In singles play, Wagenvoort remained as the Miners’ no. 1, facing the Lumberjacks’ Tomasetti but fell 6-1, 6-1. Purkiss moved up to the no. 2 spot for the Miners, but slipped-up against Lodewijks 6-0, 6-1. At the no. 4 position, Medina met with Granville, but fell 6-1, 6-1. The Miners’ no. 6 was Morozova, who battled with NAU’s Madi Moore and stayed competitive but dropped the match 6-3, 6-3.
“Going into singles, it was the same thing, just too many matches where I felt like we started down from the very beginning and against an experienced team like this, they’re just not going to give you too many opportunities to let you back in,” Fernandez said. “The fact that we just weren’t able to get off to a good start, we needed to make more adjustments in the beginning and give ourselves an opportunity to compete better. The fact that we’re so young, I just hope that they [UTEP] learn from it and try not to let it happen again next time.
“Playing against a team that is used to winning, that has four returners, and conference championship match experience, it just gives them a little bit of an edge that we just don’t have. I think we’re competing well on some of the courts, we’re just not competing as well on all the courts, which is what we really need to do to give ourselves those opportunities.”
The Miners will continue their homestand as they take on UTPB at the El Paso Tennis and Swim Club on Feb. 10. First serve against the Falcons is set for 12 p.m. MST. Admission is free.