STORY BY MONTANA SPORTS INFORMATION
LAS VEGAS, NV – The Montana women’s tennis team opened its final road trip of the regular season with a 7-0 loss to UNLV Thursday at the Fertitta Tennis Complex in Las Vegas.
The Rebel’s home courts proved once again to be a notoriously difficult place to win, with UNLV improving to 11-1 at home on the year (12-5 overall), while the Griz fell to 7-12 following the nonconference loss.
The Rebels held off a Grizzly charge in the doubles round, getting a hot start on court one with a 6-0 win over Montana’s top pair of Cam Kincaid and Bianca Bostrom, who sit at 4-2 in Big Sky play this season.
On court two, Catherine Orfanos and Nathalie Joanlanne battled with UNLV’s Zhang/Lopez pair, eventually falling 6-4 to clinch the point for the Rebels.
Meanwhile, on court three, Julia Ronney and Lidia Dukic were on their way to an upset, leading the home team’s Asano/Li pair 6-5 when the point was called in UNLV’s favor.
Led by the nation’s No. 53 ranked player, Aiwen Zhu, the Rebels jumped out to an early lead in singles, with her 6-0, 6-1 win over Ronney on court one.
Montana’s two seniors were the next to fall for the Griz in the singles round, with Orfanos and Kincaid each being blanked in the first set 6-0, and Orfanos eventually falling in the second 6-2 on court five, and Kincaid falling 6-3 on court two, clinching the match for UNLV.
Dukic, who has spent the spring battling her way back from injury, was competitive in her first set on court six but ran out of gas in the 6-3, 6-1 loss.
The Grizzlies now turn their attention to Southern Utah, returning to conference play on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. in Cedar City.
The match against the Thunderbirds holds big postseason implications for UM, with SUU sitting ahead of them in the sixth place on the conference standings.
With the Griz currently sitting in eighth place, Saturday’s match represents an opportunity for UM to close in on the Big Sky championship tournament, where only the top-six get an invite.
Thursday’s stumble at UNLV could prove beneficial for the Griz, with UM bouncing back from a loss over a highly favored opponent to win a match against a similar opponent three different times this season.
In Big Sky play, the Griz remain confident after upsetting the third-ranked Weber State Wildcats last week before falling to Idaho State in a close 4-3 loss.
Montana’s match against the T-Birds was originally scheduled for 11 a.m. at SUU but has been bumped up an hour due to impending bad weather.
The match location was also moved to Cedar High School to accommodate the Thunderbird men’s team, who will also play the Griz men at 10 a.m. on Saturday at the SUU tennis center.
UNLV 7, Montana 0
04/05/2018 at Las Vegas, Nev. (Fertitta Tennis Complex)
1. #53 Aiwen Zhu (UNLV) def. RONNEY, Julia (UM) 6-0, 6-1
2. Izumi Asano (UNLV) def. KINCAID, Cam (UM) 6-0, 6-3
3. En-Pei Huang (UNLV) def. JOANLANNE, Nathalie (UM) 6-0, 6-2
4. Anna Bogoslavets (UNLV) def. BOSTROM, Bianca (UM) 6-1, 6-1
5. Jovana Kenic (UNLV) def. ORFANOS, Catherine (UM) 6-0, 6-2
6. Samantha Li (UNLV) def. DUKIC, Lidia (UM) 6-3, 6-1
1. Aiwen Zhu/En-Pei Huang (UNLV) def. KINCAID, Cam/BOSTROM, Bianca (UM) 6-0
2. Juliet Zhang/Mercedes Lopez (UNLV) def. ORFANOS, Catherine/JOANLANNE, Nathalie (UM) 6-4
3. Izumi Asano/Samantha Li (UNLV) vs. RONNEY, Julia/DUKIC, Lidia (UM) 5-6, unfinished