Women's tennis opens strong in Boise

Precious Gbadamosi

Precious Gbadamosi

Sept. 23, 2013

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The Montana women's tennis team had a number of strong singles and doubles performances last weekend as the Grizzlies opened their fall season at Boise State's Jack Taylor Classic. The tournament was the first of four fall competitions for Montana.

The Grizzlies won 10 singles matches over the three-day tournament, which featured athletes from 11 schools, and five doubles matches.

"I like how everyone got something this weekend and how everybody is showing improvement and stepping up," UM sixth-year coach Steve Ascher said.

"Three or four years ago we weren't winning anything at these tournaments, so it's exciting to see us in the mix."

Juniors Sasha Carter and Precious Gbadamosi won half of Montana's singles victories while playing in the Blue Flight, which featured the top 32 players at the tournament.

Carter opened play with a quick straight-set victory over Abilene Christian's Brittney Reed in the round of 32, then made even quicker work of Boise State's Sammie Watson, 6-2, 6-1, in the round of 16. Watson defeated Carter in three sets last year at the same tournament.

In the quarterfinals Carter knocked off Boise's Sandy Vo, the Blue Flight's No. 2 seed, 6-3, 1-6, 6-2. Carter lost to eventual flight champion Morgan Basil of Boise State in the semifinals in three hard-fought sets, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 3-6. Carter was the only player at the tournament to extend Basil to three sets.

"I've worked really hard to step up my game," Carter said. "I'm starting to get better at playing a bigger and more aggressive game. This shows the hard work is paying off and gives me a lot of confidence that I'm doing the right things."

Gbadamosi opened the tournament with a reunion match. Micah Hermsdorf, who plays No. 1 for Abilene Christian, played No. 1 at Klein High School in Houston. One year younger and playing No. 2 for the Bearkats was Gbadamosi.

"It was nerve-racking, because she always played in front of me in high school," Gbadamosi said. "I just tried to play my game and do my best."

After winning a tiebreaker in the opening set, Gbadamosi won 7-5 in the second against a player who won a women's singles sectional title on the ITA Summer Circuit in Texas in July.

Gbadamosi faced the Blue Flight's No. 1 seed, McKenzie Davis of Utah State, who was ranked No. 13 in the Mountain Region following the 2013 spring season, in the second round, shortly after Davis had dispatched Montana State's Laura Middel 6-1, 6-1 in the opening round.

Davis won the opening set 6-1, but Gbadamosi turned the match around and won the next two sets 6-2, 6-4.

"I didn't know she was the No. 1 seed at the time," Gbadamosi said. "I just played my game, and everything worked out."

Gbadamosi would fall to Idaho's Galina Bykova in three sets in the quarterfinals. Bykova made the Blue Flight championship match, where she lost in straight sets to Basil.

Senior Ashley Mackey and junior Laurence Pelchat also played in the Blue Flight.

Pelchat won her opening-round match against Weber State's Ashley Tanner before losing to Boise's Teal Vosburgh in the round of 16. In Saturday's consolation round, Pelchat defeated Washington State's Lize Leenknecht after dropping the opening set.

Mackey lost her opening match in the flight's round of 32 to Idaho's Almudena Sanz, but she came back to win twice in straight sets in the consolation bracket. One of those wins was a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Kristi Elmer, who plays No. 1 for Weber State.

Senior Maddy Murray and redshirt freshman Mackenzie Rozell both lost their opening matches in the Orange Flight. Rozell came back and won a match in the consolation bracket against Weber State's Annika Karlsen.

Gbadamosi and Mackey played doubles together last fall and at the start of the spring season until Ascher teamed Haley Driver with Gbadamosi. They would go on to win their first 12 matches together and finish the spring 14-2.

Gbadamosi and Mackey joined up once again last weekend and picked up wins over teams from Abilene Christian, Utah State and Boise State on their way to the Blue Flight title match, where they fell to Vo and Basil.

"It wasn't a hard adjustment (going back to playing with Mackey)," Gbadamosi said. "We've always made a good team. We know each other well, and we're both fast players."

Carter and Murray, as they did last spring, teamed up and opened with an 8-2 win over a pairing from Seattle University. They lost to Vo and Basil in the quarterfinals.

That left Pelchat and Rozell as Montana's third double pairing to compete in the Orange Flight.

They opened with an 8-6 win over a team from Montana State in the quarterfinals, then lost to Idaho's Belen Barcenilla and Sophie Vickers, who would win the flight title, in the semifinals.

Montana will compete at the Rice Invitational in Houston later this week.



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