April 12, 2013
By Stephanie Juncker
By Stephanie Juncker
FRESNO, Calif. ---Riding a four match winning streak and undefeated conference record through its first four Mountain West matches, the No. 55 women's tennis team hits the road this weekend for two critical MW matches in Las Vegas, Nev. Fresno State first faces No. 48 San Diego State on Saturday at 10 a.m., then UNLV on Sunday also at 10 a.m. Both matches will be played at UNLV's Fertitta Tennis Complex.
With the Mountain West tournament less than two weeks away, the matches against the Aztecs and Rebels will have major implications in the conference race and seeding for the MW tournament. Fresno State (4-0) and SDSU (3-0) are the only undefeated teams remaining in the conference standings with UNLV (2-1) sitting in fourth-place after dropping its conference opener to the Aztecs.
About the Competition
San Diego State (14-4) enters the match with the Bulldogs having won seven straight and finding its way back into the top 50 in the ITA rankings. Last weekend the Aztecs hosted three Mountain West opponents, defeating No. 71 UNLV (4-3), New Mexico (7-0) and Boise State (6-1). SDSU is 1-0 in neutral site matches this season having topped Xavier 6-1 in Honolulu at the end of February.
This will be the 13th meeting between FS and SDSU. The Aztecs lead the series 7-5, however the Bulldogs have won four straight meetings. The last meeting came in the first round of the 2003 NCAA Tournament in Tempe, Ariz. and was won by the Bulldogs 4-0.
UNLV (12-6) has 10 home victories this season leading up to the match with the 'Dogs. The Rebels went 2-1 in San Diego last weekend dropping only to the nationally ranked Aztecs and winning convincingly over the Broncos and Lobos. The Rebels boast two nationally-ranked players in singles including last year's MW Player of the Year. Junior Aleksandra Josifoska is the top ranked player in the Mountain West at No. 32, while classmate and reigning conference POY Lucia Batta sits at No. 89. Josifoska is 12-3 in dual matches playing at the top spot, while Batta is undefeated at 17-0 at No. 2.
Sunday's matchup between the 'Dogs and Rebels will be the 17th meeting all-time and Fresno State leads the series 9-7. The teams have already met once this year at the California Kick-Off Weekend at the end of January in Berkeley. The Bulldogs picked up a 5-2 win on the strength of the bottom half of the lineup. FS won the doubles point with wins on courts two and three, with court three coming in a tiebreaker. The 'Dogs then carried that momentum into singles winning on courts three through six, two in three sets.
Fresno State is led by three seniors who are seeking a conference championship to end a stellar career. Melissa McQueen (Whitby, Canada), Bianca Modoc (Yorba Linda, Calif.) and Olga Kirpicheva (Moscow, Russia) have combined for 199 career singles victories, 45 team dual match wins, two WAC runner-ups and one WAC Championship (As of 4/11/13). The seniors have led a team comprised of mostly underclassmen this season to 12 dual match wins so far and a 4-0 record in Mountain West conference play.
Sophie Finds Sweet Spot
Freshman Sophie Watts has hit quite the sweet spot lately as she rides an eight match singles winning streak into action this weekend. The Hitchin, England native arrived on campus in January and has made quite an impact on the Bulldog lineup as she leads the team in dual match wins with 12. Watts has not lost or dropped a set since the 'Dogs road trip to Arizona in mid-February.
After many changes in the doubles lineup early in the season, the Bulldogs seem to have found at least two good fits in the lineup. Melissa McQueen and Rana Sherif Ahmed lead the team with ten dual match victories, while Bianca Modoc and Sophie Watts are undefeated while playing at the No. 2 spot with five wins this season.
McQueen Making History
Senior Melissa McQueen ranks second on the team this season with eleven wins in singles during dual matches and leads the team with 21 overall victories. Her 21 wins is the highest wins total of her career surpassing the 17 overall wins she recorded last season. She is one win shy of tying her career high dual match singles wins since recording 12 as a freshman. McQueen has moved into the top 15 all-time winningest singles players in Fresno State history as she sits alone at 14th with 68 career singles wins and is three wins behind Cecile Boudais and Tinesta Rowe who are tied for 12th.
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