Bouncing back from a laborious defeat at the hands of conference rival Long Beach State, the Cal State Northridge women’s tennis team crushed the University of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine 7-0 Feb. 20 at the Northridge Tennis Complex.
The first point went to the Matadors, as positions one through three each eliminated their opponents with relative ease. In the No. 1 position, junior Silvia Gutierrez and senior YuYu Myinttun dispatched Kana Aikawa and Samantha Cappella 8-5. Sophomores Kanykey Koichumanova and Canna Furuta overpowered Julia Sandborn and Erin Katayama 8-4 in the No. 2 spot, while No. 3 junior Olga Yepremian and sophomore Ana Matijasevic crushed Florence Wasko and Chloe Bihag 8-3.
Each time the Matadors (4-2, 1-2 in conference) have won their doubles point, the team has gone on to win the entire match.
In the singles competition, Matador No. 1 Gutierrez dominated UH’s error-prone Aikawa 6-1, 6-2.
Recently moving ahead in CSUN’s team ranking to the No. 2 singles position, Koichumanova, with flu and all, powered her way to a first-set tiebreaker against UH’s Bihag, winning both the set and the match in convincing fashion, 7-6(0), 6-3.
“Bihag is a good athlete and she doesn’t give up,” Koichumanova said. “But I don’t like to play on the defensive. I like to be in the driver seat and make my opponent miss balls.”
As was the case against Long Beach, Koichumanova was the last Matador to finish her match. And similar to that day, everyone in attendance watched her extraordinary ability to remain focused and execute crucial points to seal the victory.
“It’s great to see her in those tough matches,” Myinttun said. “Just watching her pumps me up.”
In the No. 3 position, CSUN’s Furuta overwhelmed UH’s Katayama in straight sets, 6-1,6-2. Furuta, who usually plays in the No. 2 spot, proved that she is more than capable of sustaining the high level of play needed to be one of CSUN’s top players.
“I thought Canna played very aggressive,” said head coach Gary Victor. “It was good for her to be reminded how good she is. And it was a real nice confidence builder too”
Furuta is currently the only Matador with a sub-500 record in singles play (2-4), but she said she is confident she can perform at a higher level and that by playing in the No. 3 position, a newfound sense of urgency presented itself.
Victor, however, made it clear that Furuta’s move to the No. 3 position was simply a question of match-ups, not a demotion.
Matijasevic was also bumped up a spot to the No. 4 position, where she rolled over Cappella 6-0, 6-3, in what was the quickest of the singles matches. With the victory, Matijasevic improved her singles record to a team-best 5-1, with her only defeat coming from the nationally ranked Long Beach State 49ers. Matijasevic is also carrying an undefeated (3-0) record at the No. 4 position,
In the No. 5 spot, Myinttun nearly shutout UH’s Sandborn by a score of 6-0, 6-1.
“I felt I knew exactly how to play against her,” Myinttun said. “I was comfortable and I knew she was impatient. I just slowed myself down to avoid making easy mistakes.”
Lastly, Matador No. 6 player Sonya Kumar took down her opponent, Wasko 6-3, 6-1. The win extended her singles record to 4-1 on the season.
With the loss, UH drops to a grim 0-7 record for the 2006 season. Regardless, the Rainbow Wahine did a great job of representing their school, maintaining a certain amount of class throughout the defeat.
“They (UH) will be very good down the road,” Victor said. “I thought the whole team was very classy.”
The Matadors will again be tested as the team takes to the road to face the Anteaters of UC Irvine Feb. 26, at 11 a.m. in Irvine.
“Hopefully we will go into Irvine with the same confidence we had against Hawaii,” Victor said. “Irvine is a steady team with few weaknesses. I expect a very close match, but if we play confident?I expect us to win.”
Matt Osias can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.