The UTEP tennis team opened its spring season with a sweep of a doubleheader against Western New Mexico. The Miners held the Mustangs scoreless in both showings, running away with the matches 7-0, 7-0, respectively on Saturday at the El Paso Tennis and Swim Club.
UTEP is now 2-0 on the season, while Western New Mexico fell to 0-2.
Due to Western New Mexico only having four active players, the match was changed into a doubleheader so every UTEP player could participate.
“It’s always nice to start out the season at home, even though we made this match a little more complicated than it needed to be because the girls were nervous and it was their first match,” first-year head coach Ivan Fernandez, who earned his first two UTEP victories said. “The fact that we had such great turnout with fans helped them play better, while it also put a little bit of pressure on them because they wanted to play well in front of our fans. We’re really glad to get this match under our belt. It gives us a really good idea of we’ve got to work on and what the lineup will probably be for the next matches coming up.”
In the first match of the doubleheader, veteran Lois Wagenvoort and Yvette Van Oijen, in her UTEP debut, put away Western New Mexico’s Nadia Justiniano and Karina Diaz 6-1 at the no. 1 doubles spot, while junior Raven Bennett and Chloe Purkiss took down Christine Roerick and Kaycie Cormier 6-2 at the no. 2 position. Junior Maria Paula Medina and Milena Baigorria won by forfeit.
In singles action, Wagenvoort got the Miners rolling with a 6-3, 6-2 triumph over Justiniano at the no. 1 spot, while Yvette Van Oijen followed suit with a 7-5, 6-0 win over Diaz in the no. 2 doubles position. At the no. 3 spot, Purkiss earned her first collegiate victory with a 6-4, 6-2 edge of Roerick. Medina made quick work of Cormier 6-1, 6-0, at the no. 4 to seal the victory. Erandi Martinez and Alisa Morozova won their singles matches by forfeit.
The Miners again took the doubles point in the final match of the day behind a 6-2 win by duo Medina and Baigorria over Western New Mexico’s tandem Justiniano and Diaz at the no. 1 spot, with Medina ending the match with an ace. Martinez and Morozova teamed up to seal the point with a 6-1 rout of the Mustang’s Roerick and Cormier. Purkiss and Bennett won their doubles match by forfeit.
Martinez blanked Diaz 6-0, 6-0, at the no. 2 singles position to earn her singles win of the day. Martinez had 10 wins in the fall season. At the no. 3 spot, another freshman power in Morozova turned away Roerick 6-3, 6-1, while fellow rookie force Baigorria easily followed suit with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Cormier at the no. 4 position. Medina and Bennett earned wins by forfeit.
Rounding out the day for the Miners was Purkiss, who earned her third victory of the day at the no. 1 spot in a hard-fought battle with Justiniano. Purkiss, who already had a singles and doubles win under her belt in her UTEP debut, edged Justiniano 6-4, 6-7, 10-8 for the set and match.
“For a freshman to be able to come in and play the first match at no. 3 and the second match at no. 1 and get both wins, it says a lot about Chloe’s fight and her determination,” Fernandez said. “I’m glad that we were able to get the nerves out, because she played a little bit nervous in the first match, but the last one she was able to relax a little bit.
Nadia [Justiniano of Western New Mexico] played really well and really took it to Chloe. The fact that she [Chloe] was able to compete was great to see.”
The Miners will now prep for two dual matches Jan. 26 and 27 against Louisville and Western Kentucky, respectively. UTEP will meet with the Cardinals Friday at 10 a.m. and the Hilltoppers Saturday at 11 a.m.. Both matches will be played in Louisville, KY.
Photos by Andres Acosta, Chief Photographer, El Paso Herald-Post