Sept. 17, 2012
Junior Ashley Mackey won a singles title in Flight 3 and a doubles title with sophomore Precious Gbadamosi in Flight 2 as the Montana women's tennis team kicked off its fall tournament schedule last weekend at the Washington State Cougar Classic at Pullman, Wash.
Mackey went 5-0 in her singles draw and teamed up to go 4-0 with Gbadamosi in their doubles draw, but the Grizzlies' success went seven athletes deep, three days strong. Montana won 23 singles matches at the tournament and another 10 in doubles. The Grizzlies went 14-1 as a team on Saturday.
"We are in a good place," said head coach Steve Ascher. "The team competed hard and did a good job of making adjustments from match to match.
"Plus the level of support they show for each other is important. The players really encourage one another."
Mackey won her singles title in Flight 3 by claiming all five of her matches in straight sets. After defeating athletes from Lewis-Clark State, Gonzaga, Portland and Idaho, Mackey topped it off with a satisfying 7-5, 6-2 beat down of former Griz Constance Alexander, who now plays for Idaho.
In Flight 1 singles, senior Heather Davidson and sophomore Sasha Carter both opened with straight-set victories over players from Eastern Washington and Gonzaga before losing to athletes from Idaho and Washington State.
Both went on to play well in the consolation brackets, with Carter going 3-0 and Davidson 2-1.
Sophomore Haley Driver, a transfer from Oregon, made her debut in a Griz uniform in Flight 2 against one of her bracket's toughest draws, Almudena Sanz of Idaho. Sanz, who was ranked No. 19 in the Mountain Region at the end of the spring season, won the opening-round matchup 6-2, 6-4.
Sanz would go on to win Flight 2, and would both start her and finish her draw against Montana. Almost matching Mackey in total tournament wins, Gbadamosi went 4-0 in Flight 2 before losing the title match to Sanz, 6-7, 6-4, 3-6.
Driver rebounded strongly in the consolation bracket. She made quick work of her three straight-set matches, dropping just eight games in six sets.
Like Driver, freshman Mackenzie Rozell was also making her Griz debut but in Flight 3. She opened with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Sandy Dennett of Gonzaga before falling to Idaho's Alexander. Rozell went 3-0 in her consolation matches on Saturday and Sunday, picking up both a 6-0, 6-0 and a 6-2, 6-0 win.
The doubles portion of the tournament had just two flights. In Flight 2, Mackey and Gbadamosi opened with victories over teams from Seattle and Gonzaga, then knocked off Washington State's Elizaveta Luzina and Lize Leenknecht, 8-4, in the semifinals and Boise State's Bobbi Oshiro and Fiona Mok, 8-5, in the championship match.
In Flight 1, Carter and Driver won a pair of matches before falling in the quarterfinals to a team from Washington State that featured Liudmila Vasilieva, the nation's 33rd-ranked individual player.
Davidson and Pelchat made it one step further, winning three matches before falling to a team from Idaho in the semifinals that eventually won the flight title over Vasilieva's doubles team.
With junior Maddy Murray home nursing an injury, Rozell teamed up with a player from Idaho in Flight 2 for Rozell's first collegiate doubles experience. Rozell and Vicky Lozano went 2-1 at the tournament, with wins over teams from Portland and Gonzaga.
Montana will play at another high-level tournament Sept. 28-30 when the Grizzlies compete at the Boise State Classic. That will be the team's only other preparation for the ITA Mountain Regional, which will be held in mid-October at Las Vegas.
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