STORY BY MONTANA SPORTS INFORMATION
OGDEN, UT – After a pair of close calls in the doubles round at Utah State and Boise State, the Montana women’s tennis team got the breakthrough it had been looking for on Wednesday, clinching the point at Weber State and holding on in singles to defeat the Big Sky’s No. 3 ranked Wildcats 4-3 in Ogden.
The win puts the Griz at 7-10 on the season and boosts their Big Sky record to .500 at 3-3, while the loss is just the second on the conference schedule for Weber State (8-8, 4-2 BSC).
“The doubles set an awesome tone for the rest of the match,” said junior Nathalie Joanlanne. “We did a really good job of keeping our foot on the gas and executing, and I think that carried over into singles.”
Now in the back half of a week-long tour, head Coach Steve Ascher noticed a difference in his team’s level of intensity against Weber State as well.
“Everyone was so aggressive, and that added logs to the fire,” he said. “We’ve practiced and talked a lot about starting strong on this trip, but we were so much more aggressive today, and it really showed.”
Montana dominated on courts one and two to start the doubles round. Bianca Bostrom and Cam Kincaid improved to 4-2 in league play as partners with a comfortable 6-3 win over WSU’s Herb/Kuo pair.
The Griz then clinched the point on court two, with the junior/senior pair of Joanlanne and Catherine Orfanos cruising to a 6-3 win.
Freshman Julia Ronney used the momentum to breeze to a 6-1, 6-1 victory on singles court one. But the Wildcats then clawed their way back into it with a pair of wins on courts two and four to knot the match 2-2.
The Griz wouldn’t stay tied for long, however, as Joanlanne worked her way past WSU’s Tereza Pilzova 6-4, 6-4 to put Montana up 3-2, with the decider coming on the final two courts.
Joanlanne had been one of Montana’s bright spots in singles during the two-match stretch against Mountain West teams, dropping a three-set thriller at Utah State, and hanging tight with her opponent at Boise State.
“Those two close matches really helped my confidence,” added Joanlanne. “When I got up I knew I would be able to close it out. It was a good feeling.”
Another of Montana’s stars over the previous two matches was Orfanos, who missed out on an upset at Utah State in three sets but bounced back for UM’s only win over Boise State, a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Vanessa Timm.
With the match on the line, Orfanos ground out long point after long point to clinch the win for the Griz, with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over McKenna Lloyd as her teammates cheered her on.
With a full sail of momentum at their backs, Montana now heads to Idaho State on Friday to finish the four-match spring break tour.
If the conference championship tournament were to happen tomorrow, ISU (6-9, 3-2 BSC) would earn the final berth as the No. 6 team and UM would be watching from home at No. 7, giving the match post-season Big Sky implications for both squads.
First serves for Friday’s match in Pocatello are set to go up at noon, with matches scheduled to be played in Reed Gym.