April 15, 2009
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Having finished the season with a 10-12 record and 4-4 mark against Big West opponents, the Cal State Northridge women's tennis team enters the Big West Championships as the fourth seed and with a match-up Friday against Pacific. The Tigers and Matadors will square off in a first round match in Indian Wells, Calif., at 3 p.m.
For the Matadors, the season has been full of adversity, most of which the team overcame with great effort. Injuries robbed the squad of top talent in the early contests, a series of matches against quality opponents. Yet, the Matadors rebounded and eventually strung a six-match winning streak.
Now with the Championships beginning Friday, CSUN Head Coach Gary Victor believes this team's character will help lead to some promising play in Indian Wells.
"I am happy to be seeded fourth in the tournament because this team has showed a lot of character and worked especially hard," said Victor. "This team has great chemistry and overcame a lot of adversity to earn a fourth seed, which is remarkable."
The Matadors feature some of the best doubles play in the conference, highlighted by the tandem of Brooke Doane and Evgeniya Vertesheva. The duo finished a perfect 8-0 against league opponents and 17-2 overall during the season. The duo enters Friday on a seven-match winning streak and is 16-1 since Jan. 21.
For Doane, who earned All-Big West Doubles Second Team honors in 2008, this year's mark puts her doubles career record at 35-4. Vertesehva is a freshman who has played all her matches for Victor and the Matadors at the No. 1 position in both doubles and singles.
"They have put together quite a season and have beaten some very good teams this year," added Victor. "They compliment each other so well and it almost didn't happen. Fortunately, we put them together and their abilities give a lot of confidence to our other players."
Nina Jaworowski and Nigora Sirojiddinova have teamed up to play the majority of No. 2 doubles matches for CSUN, posting a 10-10 mark for the season that includes a 4-4 record against Big West opponents. Whitney Paluch and Sandra Kukla will probably be the third seed in doubles, having posted a 7-3 mark on the season.
In singles action, Vertesheva, Jaworowski and Doane have constituted the Matadors' top three players for the majority of the year. Vertehseva finished her rookie season with a 11-10 overall record and a 4-4 mark against league opponents, all at the No. 1 position.
Jaworowski has made a big jump in her sophomore season, moving from the No. 6 player in 2008 to the second seed for CSUN. She led the Matadors with a 13-7 record and a 4-4 record in league matches. Doane is 9-10 overall, but 4-3 in league matches after also moving up several draws from her freshman year.
"The key for us is believing in our abilities because we earned the right to be confident as the fourth seed in this tournament," said Victor. "You will not find a harder competitor than Nina and Evgeniya is sturdy and solid as a rock. Finally, Brooke has proven to be a very tough competitor at three."
In the other matches, Victor probably turns to Paluch at four, Sirojiddinova at five and Kukla at six. Paluch finished with an 8-14 mark, but proved very reliable, seeing action at several draws throughout the season.
Sirrojiddinova recorded 12 wins in her rookie season, playing predominantly at the fifth spot. Kukla returned from injury and picked up her first win of the season in the Matadors season finale against UC Riverside.
Still, Victor knows Pacific represents a strong opponent. The Matadors defeated them, 4-3, on Mar. 15, The Matadors rallied to take four singles matches, capped off by Nina Jaworowski's 4-6, 6-0 and 6-3 vicotry over Jolanta Twarowska at the No. 2 position.
"Pacific is a very dangerous team and will be looking for revenge Friday," added Victor. "We are hoping our conditioning pays off in the heat of Palm Springs. There is a big difference in the character of this team and I am confident heading into the tournament."