Tennis team prepares for Big West Tournament

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The CSUN women’s tennis team (8-13, 2-5) will face No. 57 ranked Long Beach State (12-10) in the first round of the Big West Conference tournament.

The match, which features the Matadors as the sixth seed and the 49ers as the third seed, will be played Friday at 2pm at the Indian Wells Tennis Gardens.

Head Coach Gary Victor expected his squad to be the sixth seed before the team lost to Loyola Marymount (9-13) 4-3 at home to finish their regular season.

“I hope we catch lightning in a bottle in the next week and meet our potential,” said Victor. “It’s been a hard year without our top two (injured players). We’re consistently close to beating good teams. We’re young (and) building towards the future.”

The Lady Matadors started the match against the Lions by losing all three doubles matches, letting the Lady Lions come from behind in two of the three matches.

“It was very disappointing to lose doubles, we were not mentally tough (with our No. 1 team),” Victor said. “Neither fought through their serve problems (and) it was very windy, making it tough for both teams.”

The No. 1 doubles position pitted junior YuYu Myinttun and sophomore Silvia Gutierrez against LMU’s Erin Ivey and Serena Fermin. Ivey and Fermin won the first point even after having two of their returns go out of bounds.

Gutierrez served while Myinttun took the customary position and bent down with one knee touching the ground waiting for the serve. LMU returned the serve right at Myinttun with her knee still on the ground. Myinttun hit the ball with her out-stretched racket, causing the ball to fly back over the net, un-returnable by LMU, making the score 1-1 to end the second set.

“The wind affected us,” Myinttun said. “We could not figure out how to get (the ball) in. It’s hot and windy at Indian Hills, so hopefully we will all be used to (the wind) and use it as an advantage at the conference tournament.”

Ivey and Fermin won the next five points to make the score 6-1. With Myinttun serving, LMU returned the ball into the net, CSUN made some great plays, including one where they put a return at LMU’s feet, and Myinttun and Gutierrez controlled the play winning the second point to pull the match within four.

With LMU serving, the Lady Matadors were unable to capitalize on multiple first serve faults by LMU, only to see an ace serve whiz by them to finish off the point and make the score 7-2.

Gutierrez served next, faulting on her first serve three serves in a row and double faulting the fourth. Gutierrez then got her next three serves on her first try with LMU returning one serve long and smashing another return into the net. Gutierrez then served an ace pulling CSUN within 7-3.

Myinttun and Gutierrez looked to be capturing the momentum, but a few serves later Myinttun returned game point a little long, ending the game with LMU winning 8-3. With their match ending first, Myinttun and Gutierrez cheered on their teammates in the No. 3 position doubles matches only to see sophomores Kasia Krasinska and Kanykey Koichumanova lose to LMU’s Kimi Kaloi and Patrycia Hubl 8-5.

In the No. 2 position doubles match Lady Matadors freshman Canna Furuta and sophomore Yasuyo Hashimoto lost to Carla Arguelles and Robyn Baker 8-6.

“The game of tennis is based on a smooth rhythm (and) a true bounce where you can set the ball up when you serve, but the windy conditions take all that out,” said Jaime Sanchez, head coach in his 31st season at LMU. “I know my team can adapt. Ideally you hope your team comes out sharp, calm, and focused but it fluctuates, so it’s good to see them do that today.”

The number one singles match saw Gutierrez losing to Arguelles 6-0, 6-4. Myinttun won her singles match against Ivey 6-3, 6-2, and Krasinska beat Baker 6-3, 6-3 in their singles match. LMU’s Hubl made easy work of Hashimoto 6-1, 6-1 with Koichumanova the Matadors’ leader in wins facing off against Kaloi.

“I wanted to go out with a bang,” said Kaloi. “I did not care how I won I just wanted to win. I just hacked it over because it was a windy day and (I was) just trying to be consistent. (Koichumanova) kept me on the baseline so whenever I got the opportunity I went for it.”

Koichumanova won the first point and thanks to her hard-hitting serve, she was able to set up Kaloi by sending her to both sides of the court before Kaloi hit the ball out. Kaloi used her serve to tie the score at one and continued on to take a 4-1 lead. Koichumanova broke Kaloi’s serve by moving the ball effectively around the court and winning the point to pull within two at 4-2.

Kaloi seemed to express her frustration many times throughout the match, slamming her racket on the ground and fence surrounding the court. Koichumanova hit a hard shot that Kaloi was unable to reach, to win the point, pulling the match even at four. Kaloi then won the next two points to win the first set of the best of three series 6-4.

“It wasn’t my day today,” said Koichumanova. “I didn’t show my best, no excuses. This was (my) best (today). This is one more lesson I can learn. I will try to be tougher next match. She (Kaloi) is really good and smart. She had good combinations and did her best and beat me today, but I could not understand her. She was so moody but was playing so well. She was just stronger than me.”

The second match had Koichumanova getting a 2-0 lead before Kaloi took control of the match by winning the next six points to take the game and the match. Koichumanova’s record fell to 15-6 in singles competition. The day finished with Furuta beating Fermin 7-6, 2-6 and 10-1.

As the Matadors look forward to facing Long Beach State in the first round of the conference tournament, they will try to erase the memories from when they faced the 49ers in the second match of the season. In that match Myinttun and Gutierrez beat Bouffler and Argumendo 9-7 in the number one doubles position while Furuta and Koichumanova won their singles matches as well, but CSUN wound up losing 5-2.

The 49ers finished their season with a 7-0 win at Cal State Fullerton (6-14, 0-7) which is seeded eighth in the Big West Conference Tournament. The 49ers have won two of the last three Big West titles.