LAS CRUCES – Kirsten Prelle and Vanessa Valdez claimed a pair of doubles matches to highlight play for the UTEP tennis team on the first day of competition at the NM State Aggie Invite.
“We started out the day incredibly positive in the doubles, lots of energy and communication,” UTEP head coach Ivan Fernandez said. “The fact that Kirsten and Vanessa were able to pull out the second match the way that they did was great. They just stepped up and took care of business. We knew we weren’t going to have any easy matches (in singles play). We showed a lot of improvement from last week to this week. I’m very happy with the core of this team. I like the direction that we are going in for sure.”
Action commenced with doubles, with a unique format of best two out of three sets (to six). The change didn’t affect UTEP, which cruised to victories in both of its matches. Prelle/Valdez blanked Brooke MacLay/Sabrina Sanchez-Chavez (Mesa Community College), 6-0, 6-0. On the other court the Orange and Blue’s Rine Nozaki/Erandi Martinez rolled to a 6-0, 6-3, win vs. Fulgenzi-Roerick (WNMU).
Prelle/Valdez kept things going in round two, knocking off Quinty Janssen/ Clara Rizea (NMSU) by a final score of 7-6, 6-2.
Nozaki/Martinez had a compelling second-round match-up with Yuelin Chen/ Natasha Munday (UNM). It went back-and-forth before the Lobo pair claimed the contest, 4-6, 6-4, (10-3).
Nozaki put together a quality performance in her collegiate singles debut. She blasted Nadia Justiniano (NM State), 6-1, 3-0 (retired).
Valdez squared off with Chen (UNM). She got off to a good start in the opening set but ultimately dropped it, 7-5. Chen secured the match with a 6-1 result in the second set.
Martinez battled but was dispatched by Harsha Challa (NM State), 6-2, 6-2.
UTEP will continue play at the event Saturday.