For the past three years The University of Montana women's tennis team has been eliminated from the conference tournament by Northern Arizona, but not this year. Montana will advance to the Big Sky Conference Championship final for the first time in the team's history with a 4-2 defeat over the Lumberjacks in the semifinal round Saturday at Gold River Racquet Club in Sacramento, Calif.
"It's hard psychologically to get over losing to somebody so many times," said Steve Ascher. "We have learned so much from losing.
"We learned how to respect the process, and that is why we won today."
Montana had a slow start, losing the doubles point 2-1. The Griz won No. 3 doubles with sophomore Ashley Mackey and freshman Precious Gbadamosi winning over Alice Pacaut and Nicole Perez but lost both the No. 1 and No. 2 matches. Junior Heather Davidson and freshman Laurence Pelchat dropped an 8-4 contest to Ghizelene Doballah and Malia Wahinepio while sophomore Maddy Murray and freshman Sasha Carter lost to the Hannah Stone and Johanna Vang 8-3.
The Grizzlies continued their slow start in singles with four players dropping their opening sets. The Grizzlies battled back however and saw singles victories at Nos. 1, 2, 5 and 6. Davidson, Pelchat, Murray and Gbadamosi all came away with wins for Montana but only Davidson and Murray were able to win in straight sets.
"Having Heather and Maddy win in straight sets was nice," said and excited Steve Ascher. "Heather played great, and Maddy cruised through her match."
Murray evened out the team score at 1-1 with her speedy victory at No. 5 but the Lumberjacks quickly took the lead back with Wahinepio's two-set win over Mackey in the No. 3 match. Mackey's loss proved to be the only singles loss for Montana though as the Grizzlies took the next three points, first with a hard-fought, two-set win by Davidson over Doballah at No. 1.
At No. 6, Gbadamosi overcame a 2-6 first-set loss to Pacaut to win the next two sets 6-3, 6-4 and Pelchat sealed the Griz victory at No. 2 with a come-from-behind victory of her own. Pelchat, after losing her first set, 3-6, won 6-3 and 6-4 to claim her match and the semifinal win for Montana.
Sacramento State defeated Northern Colorado 4-0 in the other semifinal dual and will face off against Montana at 11 a.m. Sunday for the title. Sacramento State's win over UNC marks its 91st consecutive conference win, a streak that includes both regular and post-season matches. The Hornets have won the last 10 Big Sky crowns.
Live stats will be provided for tomorrow's match at HornetSports.com and results and a full recap will be provided by GoGriz.com at the conclusion of competition.
Montana vs. Northern Arizona
Apr 21, 2012 at Sacramento, Calif.
(Gold River Racquet Club)
Montana 4, Northern Arizona 2
1. Davidson, Heather (UM) def. DOBALLAH, Ghizelene (NAU) 6-4, 6-3
2. Pelchat, Laurence (UM) def. STONE, Hannah (NAU) 3-6, 6-3, 6-4
3. WAHINEPIO, Malia (NAU) def. Mackey, Ashley (UM) 6-4, 6-3
4. VANG, Johanna (NAU) vs. Carter, Sasha (UM) unfinished
5. Murray, Maddy (UM) def. PEREZ, Nicole (NAU) 6-2, 6-1
6. Gbadamosi, Precious (UM) def. PACAUT, Alice (NAU) 2-6, 6-3, 6-4
1. DOBALLAH, Ghizelene/WAHINEPIO, Malia (NAU) def. DAVIDSON, Heather/PELCHAT, Laurence (UM) 8-4
2. STONE, Hannah/VANG, Johanna (NAU) def. CARTER, Sasha/MURRAY, Maddy (UM) 8-3
3. GBADAMOSI, Precious/GIBSON, Lauren (UM) def. PACAUT, Alice/PEREZ, Nicole (NAU) 8-4
Northern Arizona 10-13
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (5,3,1,6,2)
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