Mackey named Big Sky Conference player of the week
April 15, 2014
It was an exhilarating moment, and an unforgettable day for Ashley Mackey and the entire Montana Grizzlies women's tennis program (13-7, 8-0 BSC). On Friday against powerhouse Sacramento State, the senior netter faced match point after match point, but managed to come from behind and pull out a dramatic singles win, ending the Hornets' conference winning streak at 112 matches with a 4-3 victory.
Stemming from the successful weekend, Mackey is the Big Sky Conference player of the week, the league announced on Tuesday afternoon.
"It's a team effort, I wouldn't have gotten player of the week without everybody else," Mackey said. "Everyone pulled their matches out too, and it says something about the program to get this honor. And it's nice individually -- it's my first player of the week this season, and to get one my senior year is great."
Mackey won Friday's endurance match 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (8-6). The rest of her conference matches have not been as close -- not close at all, really. She has crushed BSC opponents at No. 5 singles this spring, posting an 8-0 record, and winning six of those matches in straight sets.
Her singles match against the Hornets' Deimante Bulatovaite lasted about four hours, but she showed no signs of fatigue the following morning, when she won easily in straight sets against Northern Colorado. Much like running a marathon, or playing a triple-overtime basketball game -- a four-hour tennis match provides an incredible physical challenge.
"It's tricky, because you have an endurance factor, and there's also speed," Head coach Steve Ascher said. "It's an endurance sport, and you're constantly cutting and running back and forth -- and then there's the whole idea of physical total body power. You're getting set and coiling to punish every ball, so physically, it's an incredibly demanding sport."
The sixth-year head coach said Mackey's physical prowess is part of what makes her so hard to compete against.
"Her fight and her competitive nature -- she just does not want to lose," Ascher said. "She'll run every ball down, she has incredible hustle, and she'll stay out there for four, five, six hours to get the job done."
In Mackey's four years as a Grizzly, she's left an imprint on the program, posting a career singles record of 72-50. She's also helped the team improve its overall record every season since her first fall campaign in 2010. In conference duels, the Griz finished 6-2 her first two seasons, and are an incredible 17-1 in conference matches with Mackey as an upperclassmen.
She said the award is another memory to treasure from the historic win against the Hornets.
"It was perfect," she said. "It was the cherry on top to the season. All the work that we've put in, and all the tough losses against nationally-ranked teams, it was like, we knew it would pay off. We did a good job of handling the (Sac. State) match and not getting too high or too low."
Mackey's final two home matches of her career are this weekend against Idaho and North Dakota at the Peak Racquet Club in Missoula.
"She's done such a great job," Ascher said. "She's turning into a leader and showing a lot of maturity. She's embracing her senior year and enjoying the last go `round. You're always hoping that all seniors have that opportunity to close out strong, and get that closure for their careers, and she's done a wonderful job this year."
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