LAS CRUCES, N.M. (April 26) - The fourth-seeded New Mexico State women's tennis team fought back from an early deficit against No. 5 seed San Jose State to claim a 4-2 win over the Spartans in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Tournament quarterfinals Thursday afternoon at the NM State Tennis Center.
After dropping the doubles point, NM State (12-7, 1-2 WAC) took four of five singles matches to claim victory over San Jose State (13-7, 3-2 WAC) who had beaten the Aggies 4-3 in San Jose on April 4.
The Aggies will face top seed and No. 33 Fresno State (13-8, 3-0 WAC) in the WAC semifinals at 3 p.m. on Friday afternoon at the NM State Tennis Center.
The victory over the Spartans marked the fourth NM State win in WAC tournament history and the second consecutive appearance in the semifinals under second-year head coach Ivan Fernandez.
"This was exciting," Fernandez said. "This is the kind of tennis that I expect from the girls. All I asked them to do today was to fight hard and let the results happen on their own.
"We started out slower than usual in the doubles but still had a chance to win the point. It's not easy to win four out of six singles matches."
San Jose State opened the match by claiming doubles victories at positions 1 and 3 to take an early 1-0 advantage.
"After doubles I told the team to not worry about the result," added Fernandez, "not worry that we were down 1-0 and to just keep their focus and concentration and give the team a chance to win the match."
Perhaps the most impressive effort of the day was a stunning comeback victory by Aggie senior Manon Sylvain who clinched the winning team match point at No. 1 singles. Down a set and 5-4 at double-match point in the second set, Sylvain fought back to force a second-set tiebreaker which she won 7-5 to claim a 7-6 set win and force a deciding set.
Riding the momentum of the win and the energy of an Aggie crowd, Sylvain rattled off five straight games to begin the third set en route to a 6-1 victory.
Fellow senior captain Natalia Salum was also in a third-set battle next door on court four. Salum dropped the opening set 6-3 before bouncing back to claim a 7-5 decision in set two. The third set was knotted at 4-4 when Sylvain raised her hands in victory on court one.
"When you play in this format that as soon as a team reaches four points a match is decided it's so important to never give up and fight to stay on the court as long as possible," Fernandez said. "The fact that our seniors forced third sets and stayed on the courts a long time, the match turned around in our favor. I'm very proud of my seniors for fighting and getting it done out there."
Aggie sophomore Ros-Polly Nguyen was the first off the court with a 6-2, 6-3 win at No. 6 singles to tie the match at 1-1. But SJSU moved ahead 2-1 after a victory on court two.
NM State sophomore Annemieke Witte also won in straight sets for the Aggies 6-3, 6-3 on court five to tie the match again, 2-2.
On court three, Aggie junior Ginet Pinero put NM State ahead for good with a 7-6, 7-5 victory at the No. 3 spot.
Sylvain clinched the match on court one for the 4-2 victory.
Defending champion Fresno State enters the tournament as the top seed. Bulldog No. 1 singles player Marianne Jodoin is the lone ranked player on the women's side at No. 41 nationally. No. 2 seed Hawai'i stands No. 61 in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) team rankings.
All-session tickets are now available from the New Mexico State Ticket Office. All-session ticket prices are: $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $5 for youth and students. Single-session (one day) tickets are also now available. Single-session ticket prices are: $5 for adults and $3 for seniors, youth and students.
To purchase tickets, call the NMSU Ticket Office at (575) 646-1420. Ticket office hours are: Monday to Friday - 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday - 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets will also be available at the New Mexico State Tennis Center beginning Thursday.
The WAC men's tournament begins Friday at noon at the Tennis Center. The Aggie men's team (8-14, 2-3 WAC) is scheduled to battle fifth-seeded Nevada (10-10, 1-3 WAC) in one of two men's quarterfinals to open the day of competition.
For all of the latest Aggie tennis news, click NMStateSports.com.
(5) San Jose State vs. (4) New Mexico State
2012 WAC Tennis Tournament
Apr 26, 2012 at Las Cruces, N.M.
(NM State Tennis Center)
New Mexico State 4, San Jose State 2
1. Manon Sylvain (NMSU) def. Sabastiani Leon Chao (SJSU) 2-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1
2. Erica Medlin (SJSU) def. Denise Van Der Ben (NMSU) 6-2, 7-5
3. Ginet Pinero (NMSU) def. Chau Truong (SJSU) 7-6 (9-7), 7-5
4. Natalia Salum (NMSU) vs. Jessica Willett (SJSU) 3-6, 7-5, 4-4, unfinished
5. Annemieke Witte (NMSU) def. Isadora Busch (SJSU) 6-3, 6-3
6. Ros-Polly Nguyen (NMSU) def. Alexis Marquez (SJSU) 6-2, 6-3
Order of finish: Singles (6,2,5,3,1)
1. Leon Chao/Medlin (SJSU) def. Sylvain/Salum (NMSU) 8-6
2. Jodie Williams/Witte (NMSU) vs. Truong/Marquez (SJSU) 7-6, unfinished
3. Jessica Willett/Busch (SJSU) def. Pinero/Nguyen (NMSU) 8-6
Order of finish: Doubles (1,3)