STORY BY MONTANA SPORTS INFORMATION
BOZEMAN – The Montana women’s tennis team picked up its first win of the young season on Friday afternoon, and couldn’t have done it against a higher-profile opponent.
The Grizzlies (1-3) traveled to Bozeman and gritted out a 6-1 nonconference victory over the rival Montana State Bobcats (1-3) in a match that came down to tiebreaker sets on four different courts.
The Bobcats entered the match having been picked to finish third in the Big Sky preseason poll.
Despite being played as a conference tune-up and not counting toward either Big Sky or Brawl of the Wild standings, bragging rights are always on the line when it’s Griz/Cat. Montana now retains those bragging rights until the two teams meet again for the conference rematch on March 4 in Missoula.
“It was a hard match. It was 6-1, but it was one of those classic 6-1 matches where it could have gone either way,” said head coach Steve Ascher. “Even though it’s a non-counter, rivalry matches are built into the fabric of the state, so that makes it special.”
The win follows three home losses against powerhouse programs Washington State and Iowa last week. Playing up appears to have paid off for the Grizzlies in Bozeman.
“Coming off last weekend where they played so much better against Iowa, they were really focused on just getting better this week, and I think that’s exactly what we did,” added Ascher.
Cam Kincaid and Bianca Bostrom clinched the doubles point for the Grizzlies in a come-from-behind, 7-5 victory on court one after UM and MSU split on courts two and three.
In singles, senior Catherine Orfanos then cruised to victory over MSU’s Emma Podeur on court four (6-0, 6-1) to put UM up 2-0 early in the match.
“She played with a lot of energy today,” said Ascher. “Sometimes you need a big win like that to get the team going. It was fun to watch.”
Montana State then pulled within a point, taking a win on court three where MSU’s Annie Walker defeated UM’s Nathalie Joanlanne in three sets (6-3, 7-6 (7-5))
Senior Cam Kincaid and freshman Julia Ronney then sealed the win for Montana on courts two and one, respectively, but were made to work for the wins.
Kincaid and Ronney both won the first set in their matches, but fell in the second to force a third set tiebreaker. The Griz rallied in overtime, as Kincaid eventually overpowered MSU’s Angelina Phillipova 6-3, 6-7 (6-8), 6-2, and Ronney secured the win for the Griz with a 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 7-5 win over Laura Mary.
The Griz then sealed the deal on courts five and six, with Bostrom picking up another three-set victory on five. Eimear Maher finished the match with her second-straight win, defeating Sara Iverson 6-1, 6-2 on court six.
Montana returns to action on Saturday morning, taking on Seattle University in a neutral court nonconference match in Bozeman. First serves between the Griz and Redhawks go up at 9 a.m.
Montana 6, Montana State 1
1. RONNEY, Julia (UM) def. MARY, Laura (MSU) 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 7-5 2. KINCAID, Cam (UM) def. PHILIPPOVA, Angelina (MSU) 6-3, 6-7 (6-8), 6-2 3. WALKER, Annie (MSU) def. JOANLANNE, Nathalie (UM) 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) 4. ORFANOS, Catherine (UM) def. PODEUR, Emma (MSU) 6-0, 6-1 5. BOSTROM, Bianca (UM) def. ZANDER, Enni (MSU) 4-6, 7-5, 10-8 6. MAHER, Eimear (UM) def. IVERSON, Sara (MSU) 6-1, 6-2
1. KINCAID, Cam/BOSTROM, Bianca (UM) def. MARY, Laura/WALKER, Annie (MSU) 7-5 2. RONNEY, Julia/JOANLANNE, Nathalie (UM) def. PHILIPPOVA, Angelina/PODEUR, Emma (MSU) 6-0 3. ZANDER, Enni/IVERSON, Sara (MSU) def. MAHER, Eimear/ORFANOS, Catherine (UM) 7-5
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3,1); Singles (4,3,2,1,5,6)