LAS CRUCES, N.M. (Sept. 12) - The New Mexico State women's tennis team opens its fall schedule as host of the Aggie Invitational at the NM State Tennis Center this weekend beginning Friday at 9 a.m. MT. The home event is free and open to the public.
The three-day individual tournament features three singles draws and a pair of doubles brackets that will open the tourney on Friday morning. Play will continue Saturday at 9 a.m. and conclude with a Sunday championship session beginning at 9 a.m. Led by seniors Ginet Pinero and Jodie Williams, seven NM State players are eligible to compete this weekend in singles as well as doubles.
An estimated 50 student-athletes will take part in the Invitational. Joining the Aggies on the courts this weekend will be players from seven schools including Abilene Christian, New Mexico, Northern Arizona, St. Edward's, Tarleton State, UT Arlington, UTEP, and UTPB (University of Texas of the Permian Basin). Abilene Christian finished 2012 at No. 4 in the final Division II Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) rankings last May while St. Edward's ranked No. 20 and Tarleton State placed No. 31 nationally in the same poll.
"After a couple weeks of practice and conditioning we are really looking forward to begin competing," said head coach Ivan Fernandez. "This year's tournament will be much more competitive with about 50 players from some very good teams participating.
"Pinero and Williams will lead the team this year with a solid core of returners and help our freshmen make a smooth transition into collegiate competition. Lisa Roslanova from Russia is a very solid addition to the team and Mia Brandt of Norway was one of the top five juniors in her country for singles. This should make for a great combination of youth and experience."
The Aggies concluded the 2012 regular season with a 12-8 record in head coach Ivan Fernandez' second season as head coach. NM State finished the year 1-2 against Western Athletic Conference (WAC) opponents, good for the No. 4 seed in the WAC tournament hosted by the Aggies last April. NM State fought back from an early deficit to defeat No. 5 seed San Jose State 4-2 in the WAC quarterfinals then pushed top seeded Fresno State to the limit in a 4-3 loss to the Bulldogs in the semifinals.
At last year's Aggie Invitational, the Aggies dominated competition from four other schools, winning all four doubles contests and 15 of 16 singles matches on day one. The Crimson and White claimed seven of the eight semifinal slots in the pair of singles main draw brackets. As a result, those draws were suspended on day two to allow NM State players to compete in matches against opponents from other schools.
Four Aggies finished the weekend undefeated in singles play including departed senior Natalia Salum, Pinero, Ros-Polly Nguyen and Denise Van Der Ben. Seven Aggies finished with winning records at the Invitational.
NM State also saw success in doubles. In the main draw semifinals, two Aggie tandems won to set up a potential All-NM State final on Sunday. Departed senior Manon Sylvain and Pinero rolled 8-1 over Northern Arizona while Salum and Van Der Ben edged another NAU team 8-6 to advance. But Fernandez later canceled the All-Aggie doubles championship match.
The Aggies will be looking for similar results this weekend.
"I am really looking forward to seeing the team in action this weekend," added Fernandez. "I am very excited about this upcoming season with five returners and our new freshmen. The team should be one of strongest we have had in the last few years."
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