LAS CRUCES, N.M. – UMKC women's tennis (13-9) claimed its first ever Western Athletic Conference championship with a 4-1 victory over host New Mexico State (11-13) on Sunday at the NM State Tennis Center. The Roos won four singles matches to clinch the first conference title in program history. UMKC earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Tennis Tournament and will learn its opponent and destination Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. CT during the NCAA Selection Show.
“I could not be more proud of these ladies and the adversity they faced this season,” head coach Kendell Hale said. “New Mexico State came out firing today and we did not match their intensity in doubles. Singles was a different story. Katie set the tone with a quick win. Then, Aliona beat the WAC Player of the Year to give everyone the momentum. How fitting to have a senior, Mariam, clinch the history-making victory. The heart of this team is unwavering.”
Katie Fries (Overland Park, Kan.) beat Eli Arnaudova in straight sets 6-2, 6-1 on the No. 5 court to tie the match 1-1 after NM State won the doubles point. Aliona Ladutska (Minsk, Belarus) also won in straight sets over Rimpledeep Kaur in the No. 1 match, 6-3, 6-4 to pull the Roos ahead 2-1. Shortly after, Thanushree Vale (Chennai, India) closed out a 6-3, 6-1 win against Lindsay Harla in the No. 6 contest.
Mariam Kurasbediani (Tbilsi, Georgia) then closed out the match for the Roos with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Rebecca Keijzerwaard on the No. 3 court. After cruising through the first set, she pulled ahead 4-0 in the second before falling behind 5-4 and coming back to clinch the championship.
Yana Grechkina (Vladimir, Russia) was leading 6-4, 6-6 in the No. 4 match while Melinda Johnson (Overland Park, Kan.) was in a tight contest, 6-3, 4-6 0-2 in No. 2 play when Kurasbediani closed it out.
In doubles action, Kurasbediani and Vale fell 6-3 to Keijzerwaard and Valdez in the No. 2 contest to clinch the doubles point for NM State. Marina Albert (Thebes, Egypt) and Ladutska were beaten 6-0 by Gabrielle Joyce and Harlas on the No. 3 court. Grechkina and Johnson were trailing Kaur and Thiffault 5-4 in the No. 1 match when the point was secured.
Details for a watch party Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. CT during the NCAA Selection Show will be released shortly.
– UMKC –