While the CSUN students were on Spring Break, the women’s tennis team was dominating the courts. The Matadors, ranked No. 70 in the nation, won three of four matches in an eight day span, pushing its record to a perfect 5-0 in the Big West Conference and 9-3 overall.
On March 12, the Matadors overpowered Texas State University, 6-1. Three days later, Northridge defeated Big West rival, University of California, Santa Barbara, 5-2. On March 17, CSUN earned its ninth win of the season with a 5-2 defeat of Yale. Two days later, Northridge nearly upset No. 49 University of Minnesota, but fell short 4-3.
Freshman Nina Jaworowski has won seven straight singles matches, giving her a team-leading 9-2 record on the season, followed by junior Sandra Kukla at 8-2. Brooke Doane, another freshman, has a 7-2 record. In doubles, Jaworowski and Kukla, are 8-2, while the duo of Doane and senior Kanykey Koichumanova are a perfect 11-0.
“The team’s success has a lot do with balance,” CSUN head coach Gary Victor said. “The difference between (spots) one and six is very close. If Nina and Brooke were not freshman, they would be higher.”
Doane started the season a little slow. She had played a lot of junior tennis, but this is her first year on the college level.
“I finally found my game at net which is serving and volleying,” Doane said. “I got more comfortable with my game and with the whole college scene.”
In the match against Texas State (5-6, 2-2 Southland Conference) at the Matador Tennis Complex, Northridge swept in doubles play. Junior Victoria Brymer and senior Canna Furuta won 8-2. Koichumanova and Doane won by the same score, and Jaworowski and Kukla easily took their match, 8-1.
In singles, Brymer, Koichumanova, Furuta, Jaworowski and Doane each won their matches. The Bobcats won its sole point in the No. 3 slot. In a grueling three set match, Ali Gulida narrowly defeated Kukla, 6-2, 0-6, 10-4. The team’s 6-1 win was the biggest for the Matadors this season.
CSUN returned to Big West action against UC Santa Barbara (6-7, 2-2 BWC) and again dominated in doubles. The No. 1 team of Brymer and Furuta got down 3-0 early, but came back to win, 9-7. The No. 2 duo of Doane and Koichumanova won their match, 8-5. Jaworowski and Kukla lost only their second doubles match of the season, 4-8.
Victor said it was the No. 1 doubles match that set the tone for the day.
“It could have slipped away if we didn’t fire up to full capacity,” Victor said. “That one set got us on our way, and it was a huge momentum builder.”
In singles play, Brymer lost in straight sets, while Koichumanova went the distance. Koichumanova got down early, 3-6, but took the second set, 6-4. In the deciding set, she fell 3-6. The next four Matadors won their matches and earned singles points. Furuta won in a two-set thriller, 7-6, 7-6. In the No. 4 match, Kukla had no problem dispatching her opponent, 6-1, 6-3. Doane continued her successful rookie season with a 6-4, 6-3 victory. Jaworowski rounded out the day with a 6-3, 6-3 win.
“Winning in Santa Barbara is very hard,” Victor said. “It is an environment that is in their favor, so I was extremely pumped up.”
The Matadors returned home to face visiting Yale (3-8). On paper, one might assume the Ivy League school had a better chance of winning, and in the past, it has. Not this year. Northridge silenced the Bulldogs 5-2, giving the team its ninth win of the season.
CSUN won the doubles point with wins by the No. 2 tandem of Doane and Koichumanova and the No. 3 duo of Jaworowski and Kukla. Brymer and Furuta lost in the No. 1 slot, 6-8.
In singles, Koichumanova, Kukla, Doane and Jaworowski were victorious, while Brymer and Furuta both lost in straight sets.
Minnesota proved to be the most challenging of the four opponents. It was also the highest ranked opponent CSUN has faced this season. Going into the match at the Matador Tennis Complex, Minnesota (10-3) had a clear advantage. Minnesota plays in the powerhouse Big Ten Conference, while Northridge plays in the mid-major Big West. Minnesota is ranked No. 49 in the nation; CSUN is No. 70. Minnesota’s tennis budget is almost triple that of Northridge’s. Most notably, Northridge is given half the number of scholarships that Minnesota gives out. Despite these obstacles, the Matadors came within one point of defeating the Golden Gophers.
Northridge took the doubles point, with wins in the No. 2 and 3 slots. Doane and Koichumanova kept their perfect doubles record alive with a win over Alessandra Ferrazzi and Tijana Kopivica, 8-2.
Doane said the key to the duo’s success is the chemistry and knowledge of each other’s game.
“Kanykey has amazing ground strokes and she can put the ball wherever she wants,” Doane said. “I play more net and finish the point.”
Jaworowski and Kukla defeated Mikayla Rogers and Jackie Sperling, 8-2, while Brymer and Furuta fell to the team of Lindsay Risebrough and Danielle Mousseau, 2-8.
In singles, the top three matches all went to three sets and Minnesota came out on top each time. Kukla and Jaworowski were the only two Matador singles winners. Kukla won her No. 4 match, 6-3, 6-4, and Jaworowski battled in her No. 6 slot, winning in a three-set tiebreaker, 6-2, 5-7, 7-6 (1).
“We should have won, but losing a non-conference match is not the end of the world,” Victor said. “We are standing in a good place in the conference.”
The Matadors hosted non-conference opponent Boise State on March 23 at 11 a.m. at the Matador Tennis Complex. Coverage of that match will appear in tomorrow’s issue.