Griz earn seeds for ITA Regional
Haley Driver is making her fall debut this week

Haley Driver is making her fall debut this week

Oct. 8, 2013

The Montana women's tennis team will continue its fall tournament schedule this week when the Grizzlies compete at the ITA Mountain Regional in Las Vegas. The tournament opens on Wednesday and continues through the weekend at UNLV's Fertitta Tennis Complex.

The ITA Mountain Regional is the third of four tournaments for Montana, but it's the focal point of the fall. The region consists of teams from the states of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico and the northern half of Arizona.

Nineteen teams will be sending players to compete.

Montana will be represented by all seven of the players on its fall roster. That includes junior Haley Driver, who missed the team's opening two tournaments at Boise State and Rice.

The Grizzlies have fared well at the ITA regional in recent years under coach Steve Ascher.

In 2010 Rebecca Bran and Whitney Paluch made the doubles quarterfinals. In 2011 Heather Davidson and Laurence Pelchat made the doubles finals, and Pelchat advanced to the round of 16 in singles. In 2012 Davidson and Pelchat made the round of 16 in doubles and Driver made the round of 16 in singles.

The rise of Ascher's program within the region can now be quantified further. Juniors Sasha Carter and Precious Gbadamosi are both seeded in the singles draw, and Carter and Pelchat are the tournament's No. 6 doubles team.

"That's the beauty of how this team trains," Ascher said. "They push each other every day. They've helped each other prepare, and that's not always the case on teams."

Montana has had a challenging fall schedule to date, playing tournaments at Boise State and Rice. Despite the level of competition, Gbadamosi, at 4-2, and Carter, at 4-3, both have singles records above .500.

The doubles team of Carter and Pelchat is a newer pairing. They played just four times together last fall, none in the spring and once at Rice's tournament two weekends ago.

Also competing this week will be seniors Ashley Mackey and Maddy Murray and second-year player Mackenzie Rozell.

 

 

"I think we can play with anybody," Ascher said. "They are all ready, and they are all playing well. They are ready to get after it. The beauty of it is that a number of players could do something special this week."

In the singles bracket, players from UNLV, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming make up the top eight seeds. Carter and Gbadamosi are among the players seeded in the next batch of eight, all of whom are given a No. 9 seed.

The top eight doubles seeds are teams from Utah, Wyoming, Nevada, UNLV, Utah State, Colorado and Montana.

Because of their seeds, Carter and Gbadamosi both earn byes out of the singles round of 128 and into the round of 64. Mackey will face a player from UNLV in the round of 128, Murray a player from Northern Colorado, Driver and Pelchat players from BYU and Rozell a player from Weber State.

Carter and Pelchat also earned a bye out the round of 64 in the doubles draw. Mackey and Murray, who have not competed together since the spring of 2011, face a team from Boise State in the opening round, while Driver and Gbadamosi, who were 14-2 together last spring, play a team from Colorado.

"Deep runs from a lot of people," Ascher said when asked what would make this a successful tournament. "Everybody gets an opportunity to play a seeded player and beats a seeded player. Somebody makes a deep run, especially in singles.

"The way we competed the first two tournaments, that's exactly where we want to be."

The tournament opens Wednesday with the first round of doubles and the first round of singles. Thursday features the second round of doubles and second and third rounds of singles. Friday through Sunday is when the best of the region will still be alive and competing.

Updates will be available as the tournament progresses on the team's Twitter account (@UMGRIZZLIES_tn). A full recap will be posted after the tournament's conclusion on GoGriz.com.

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