Matador Invitational final fall tournament for Montana


Laurence Pelchat is 4-5 this fall in singles matches

Laurence Pelchat is 4-5 this fall in singles matches

Oct. 30, 2013

The Montana women's tennis team will play the final tournament of its fall season this weekend when the Grizzlies compete at Cal State Northridge's Matador Invitational Friday through Sunday in Northridge, Calif.

Montana will have all seven players on its roster competing against athletes from CSUN, Air Force, Cal Poly, Pepperdine, Loyola Marymount, Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Los Angeles.

This weekend will be the fourth of four high-level tournaments the Grizzlies will have competed in this fall. Montana also played tournaments at Boise State and Rice to open the fall and last competed at the ITA Mountain Regional in Las Vegas.

"Every tournament we've played this year has been good," said UM coach Steve Ascher. "It's nice to be able to head somewhere in November that's sunny and be able to play outdoors, and then also be able to play this level of competition.

"With the climate the way it is and the facilities the way they are, most of the teams in Southern California are top 75, if not higher. That's the level we want to be playing at. Everyone will get good matches every time they step on the court this weekend, which is exactly what we need."

The tournament will end a three-week hiatus from competition for Montana, which last played matches at the ITA regional. In between tournaments, the Grizzlies have been able to take advantage of fall weather that has allowed for outdoor practices.

"It's been three weeks since we finished the ITA, but the weather here has been phenomenal. We put in a lot of time, and the players worked on a lot of things in their games," Ascher said. "I'm excited to see how those little tweaks in their games and improvements translate to live competition."

Montana has collected 22 singles victories at its first three tournaments, with junior Precious Gbadamosi, at 6-3, and junior Sasha Carter, at 5-4, both owning records that are better than .500.

 

 

Gbadamosi made the championship match at the Rice Invitational and advanced to the round of 16 at the ITA Mountain Regional. Carter made the semifinals at the Boise State Jack Taylor Classic.

"This is some of the best tennis we've seen, and we've seen some good tennis over the years," Ascher said. "The program has taken a step forward in the level of play, and they are continuing to improve. It's been a joy watching it.

"Between our strength of schedule and the cooperation of the weather, the players seem to be finding another gear."

After this weekend's tournament concludes on Sunday, the team will have a nearly three-month break from competition before its spring dual season starts.

Montana will open with an exciting pair of home matches and play five of its first six dual matches in Missoula, at the Peak Racquet Club.

The Grizzlies will host Washington State on Friday, Jan. 31, and Minnesota on Sunday, Feb. 2, to get the season started. The Cougars and Gophers, who will also meet head to head on Saturday, Feb. 1, both have recent histories of being nationally ranked.

"It's not easy getting the bigger-name schools here, so when they are here, you want to do something. We don't want to be happy just getting them here," Ascher said.

Montana will continue with home matches against Lewis-Clark State, Montana State and Portland State, giving the Grizzlies five home matches by early March. It's a big change for a program used to playing its first home matches in March or even April.

"With our past schedules, by the time the local tennis community recognized we were playing, our season was almost over," said Ascher. "By getting some home matches in January to kick the season off, hopefully we can get tennis on people's minds earlier."

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