Trailing in the match, 3-0, the UTEP tennis team proved its mettle by rallying back to defeat Boise State, 4-3, at the El Paso Tennis Club Friday.
The Miners (6-12) dropped the doubles point to the Broncos (7-7) before picking up singles wins from Yvette van Oijen, Kirsten Prelle, Rine Nozaki and Erandi Martinez to fuel the comeback.
It is the second straight win for UTEP, which improves to 4-1 at home on the season. It also serves as the first victory against a Mountain West program since the Orange and Blue toppled Wyoming, 4-3, on Feb. 28, 2016.
“It was a great win today,” UTEP head coach Ivan Fernandez said. “We competed well in doubles, but couldn’t close it out. We started solid on most courts, but went down 3-0 in the match very quickly. Yvette (van Oijen) got our first point in singles and then Kirsten (Prelle). Rine (Nozaki) came back from a set down to tie it up, 3-3, and then Erandi (Martinez) closed it for us. I’m very proud of the team today. We showed great fight today, especially without Vane (Vanessa Valdez) in singles. I have always known that we could compete like this, but they needed to believe in themselves.”
The match started with doubles, where the Broncos emerged victorious at No. 2 and No. 3 to take the team point and a 1-0 lead in the match. Nozaki and Martinez battled but fell, 6-4, against Wiktoria Nosek and Emily Strande at No. 3 doubles. It was a similar story at No. 2 doubles, with Kathleen Percegona and van Oijen being clipped, 6-3, by Frankie Trella and Vanessa Timm. The match at No. 1 doubles went unfinished, with Vanessa Valdez and Prelle trailing, 5-3, against Lilian Poling and Wilhelmina Palmer.
Percegona came up short, 6-1, 6-1, at No. 2 singles against Palmer. That was followed by Milena Baigorria losing, 6-1, 6-1, against Strande at No. 5 singles, affording the visiting Broncos the 3-0 team lead. Rather than fold up shop, UTEP kept the faith and emerged victorious in the remaining four singles matches to pull of the improbable comeback.
It was the senior van Oijen who got it started by cruising past Timm, 6-1, 6-4, at No. 4 singles. Prelle then took down Poling, 6-4, 6-4, at No. 1 singles.
Nozaki dropped the first set, 6-2, at No. 6 singles against Trella. She regrouped and struck back in a big way, claiming the final two sets, 6-1, 6-2. All eyes were then on Martinez, who delivered a 6-4, 6-4 result against Nosek at No. 3 singles to put the match in the win column for UTEP.
The Miners will look to continue their winning ways when they play host to UT-Tyler at 12 p.m. MT Saturday. A victory would ensure the first three-match surge since UTEP won four in a row in 2016.
Tennis Match Results – Boise State vs UTEP 4/5/2019 at El Paso, Texas
UTEP 4, Boise State 3
1. Kirsten Prelle (UTEP) def. Lilian Poling (BSU) 6-4, 6-4
2. Wilhelmina Palmer (BSU) def. Kathleen Percegona (UTEP) 6-1, 6-1
3. Erandi Martinez (UTEP) def. Wiktoria Nosek (BSU) 6-4, 6-4
4. Yvette Van Oijen (UTEP) def. Vanessa Timm (BSU) 6-1, 6-4
5. Emily Strande (BSU) def. Milena Baigorria (UTEP) 6-1, 6-1
6. Rine Nozaki (UTEP) def. Frankie Trella (BSU) 2-6, 6-1, 6-2
1. Vanessa Valdez/Kirsten Prelle (UTEP) vs. Lilian Poling/Wilhelmina Palmer (BSU) 3-5, unfinished
2. Frankie Trella/Vanessa Timm (BSU) def. Kathleen Percegona/Yvette Van Oijen (UTEP) 6-3
3. Wiktoria Nosek/Emily Strande (BSU) def. Rine Nozaki/Erandi Martinez (UTEP) 6-4
Boise State 7-7
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3); Singles (2,5,4,1,6,3)