The CSUN women’s tennis team approached spring break with a daunting schedule in front of them. They faced the prospect of playing six matches in 14 days against stiff competition.
CSUN was looking to bolster its 3-8 record by putting together a winning streak, something the team had failed to accomplish all year.
Northridge started the challenging stretch with a solid victory against non-conference foe, Columbia, March 14 at the Northridge Tennis Complex.
CSUN took an early 1-0 lead in the match by dominating doubles play, which has been the strength of the team throughout the season.
However, the match was in doubt during the singles competition after CSUN’s top two players Silvia Gutierrez and Canna Furuta lost their matches, leaving the Lady Matadors to rely on their other singles players.
Luckily for CSUN, they did receive contributions to help the team record the victory. The key contribution was made thanks to the performance of freshman Kanykey Koichumanova, who clinched the match with a 7-6, 7-5 win over Kristin Martinez, helping snap a two game losing streak.
After the match, coach Gary Victor said he was encouraged about the quality depth on the team.
“We are a little bit more confident than earlier in the year because we have players like Koichumanova to provide much needed depth,” Victor said.
The short-term excitement of the victory was dimmed the next afternoon, when the Washington State Cougars outlasted Northridge 4-3. CSUN received victories from Furuta and Koichumanova again, but the rest of the team struggled in defeat, to the Cougars.
Northridge’s ever-reliable doubles teams lost the point which eventually led to their downfall, marking the fourth chance the Matadors had of tallying back to back victories, but failing to do so.
However, the task in front of the team got even greater after the home-stand when Northridge traveled up north to take on Sacramento State and Eastern Washington March 18.
The trip started on a bad note Saturday morning as Northridge failed to win a point in a disappointing loss that dropped their overall record to 4-10.
CSUN’s line-up was depleted during the road trip when number one player Silvia Gutierrez could not play because of an illness.
But, that same afternoon, CSUN bounced back from the tough defeat by sweeping Eastern Washington 7-0. After winning the doubles point, Northridge coasted to victory as five of the six singles matches were decided in straight sets. Freshman standouts Furuta and Koichumanova continued their stellar play, recording victories in dominating fashion.
“Canna (Furuta) and Kanykey (Koichumanova) have really stood-out this year,” Victor said.
“The two of them have been impact freshman not only for (our) team, but in the Big West Conference.”
“Some individuals like the freshman have exceeded the expectations that were set before the season started.”
After CSUN endured back- to- back matches Saturday afternoon, the team was scheduled to play two more road games at Santa Clara and St. Mary’s, but the matches were postponed due to inclement weather. Three of Northridge’s scheduled matches during the road trip were cancelled, cutting what would have been nine games in 14 days to just six.
However, their tough stretch of games was not over after the rain-shortened trip, as the team came back home to face Montana and Boise State to wrap up the tough two-week span.
Northridge was successful in their attempt to win consecutive games, soundly beating Montana Wednesday afternoon. In the absence of doubles play because of the threat of rain, CSUN took five of six singles matches to easily take the match.
Furuta continued her dominance over the rest of the competition, thrashing Montana number one Cheyne Ursich 6-1, 6-4, accounting for her second straight win at the top spot. The victory at home improved CSUN’s record to 5-4 at the Northridge Tennis Complex.
The team tried to continue it’s quality play Friday against Boise State, but Northridge fell short 4-3 in a close contest. Losing the doubles point proved costly, as the Broncos narrowly defeated the tired Matador team.
Despite splitting the six games, Northridge played well in all but one of the matches and continue to show signs of improvement.
“There are a lot of positives that can be drawn from this year including the steadied improvement of all the young players,” Victor said.
CSUN caps its regular season with a road trip to UC Riverside before wrapping up with three straight homes games against conference opponents.