After its first road trip of the spring, the UTEP women’s tennis team will return home for a month when this weekend’s matches against Abilene Christian and Northern Arizona kick off a six-match homestand.
The Friday, February 2 match against the Wildcats (2-2) is slated to begin at 2 p.m. MST while Sunday’s February 4 match against the Lumberjacks (0-2) will begin at 10 a.m. MST.
“We are very happy to be playing our next six matches back here at home at the El Paso Tennis Club,” first-year head coach Ivan Fernandez said. “We had such tremendous fan support during our last home match that being here will certainly give us a home court advantage.”
The Miners (2-2) are looking to snap a two-match skid from last weekend and remain undefeated at home. UTEP fell to Louisville 7-0 and Conference USA opponent Western Kentucky 4-1 when they faced off in Louisville, KY on Jan. 26 and 27. The young UTEP squad has been paced by rookie Erandi Martinez, who holds a 11-6 overall singles record and a 1-1 mark in dual matches. Veterans Lois Wagenvoort, Raven Bennett and Maria Paula Medina have brought the upperclassman leadership and experience as well, while four other newcomers in Milena Baigorria, Alisa Morozova, Chloe Purkiss and Yvette Van Oijen have also been key with at least one win in dual matches each. Purkiss, who did not play last weekend due to illness, has a 2-0 mark. As a unit, the Miners have a 13-9 mark in dual matches this season.
Abilene Christian is coming off a 4-1 loss from SMU on Jan. 26, but is 2-2 on the season with shutout wins over Oral Roberts and Dallas Baptist. The only loss came at the hands of Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla. The seven-women roster is led by Nini Memishishi, who has a team-best 5-1 overall record in singles play, including a flawless 4-0 mark in dual matches, playing primarily at the no. 5 position. Memishishi teams up with Lucile Pothler to make up the Wildcat’s no. 2 position tandem, and have notched a 5-3 overall record. Last season, the Wildcats finished with a 17-6 mark and 8-3 in the Southland Conference. The Miners and Wildcats last met on January 21, 2017 in Abilene, Texas, when ACU edged UTEP 4-3.
After meeting with two in-state Pac-12 rivals in Arizona State and Arizona, Northern Arizona will be looking for its first win of the season when it meets with NM State on Friday and Abilene Christian on Saturday prior to Sunday’s meeting with the Miners. NAU features the No. 53 ranked doubles pair in Hanneke Lodewijks and Chiara Tomasetti, who notched a convincing 6-2 win over the Sun Devils’ No. 28 ranked tandem in Savannah Slaysman and Tereza Kolarova. Tomasetti is the reigning Big Sky Freshman of the Year and ITA Rookie of the Year and was recently named Big Sky Athlete of the Week. Another nationally-ranked duo for the Lumberjacks is Brandy Walker and Eirene Granville, who come in at No. 56, and recorded a 6-3 win over Arizona’s Marie Van Aelst and Gitte Heynemans. The ‘Jacks and Miners last met on March 3, 2017, when NAU came out with the 5-2 win in Flagstaff, Ariz.
“We are facing two extremely tough opponents this weekend in ACU and NAU,” Fernandez said. “This will be a great learning experience for our young team as we continue to improve with every practice and every match. I know that our team will compete and fight with everything they have. As a coach, there is nothing more I can ask for. We are very close to putting all the pieces together and surprising a lot of people.”
Fans can get free popcorn and team posters during the match on Friday. Sunday’s theme is “Kid’s Club Day” and fans will receive UTEP bags filled with snacks. Family friendly music and a “Guess the Amount of Tennis Balls” game will be played pre-match and Paydirt Pete will make an appearance.
Admission to the matches is free.
UTEP vs Abilene Christian
Friday, Feb. 1 at 2 p.m.
UTEP vs NAU
Sunday, Feb. 4 at 10 a.m.
All home matches are played at the El Paso Tennis and Swim Club, admission is free