LAS VEGAS -- Host UNLV earned its first-ever title after upsetting third-seeded BYU 5-2 in the final of the inaugural Mountain West Conference Women's Tennis Championship at the Fertitta Tennis Complex Saturday.
The fourth-seeded and 65th-ranked Lady Rebels won their fifth straight dual match by rallying at the bottom of the singles lineup. The teams found themselves tied at two after Lady Rebels Katarina Malec, ranked 28th, and Marianne Bakken won their matches in straight sets and Jodi Richardson and Tara Ferguson did the same for the 47th-ranked Cougars.
BYU won the first set in both remaining matches but the Lady Rebels rallied. At No. 6, Amy Hadziosmanovic came back to overtake Lu Oswald 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 to give UNLV a 3-2 lead. Then, at No. 5, Britta Gabl rebounded from losing the first nine games and got by Dominique Reynolds 0-6, 6-4, 6-4, to suddenly give her team a commanding lead.
Needing only to win just one doubles match, UNLV got an 8-2 victory at the top spot where Malec teamed with Bakken for an 8-2 victory over Richardson and Kim Kelly. It was the 14th-straight doubles win for the duo and improved their record to 24-3. The remaining matches were halted.
BYU, which earned second place, fell to 11-9 and 5-2 in the MWC.
"They were just too good, and Malec is just unbelievable," BYU head coach Craig Manning said. "We had a lot of chances in singles but we didn't take advantage of our opportunities. Our girls just fight like crazy and I am very happy with the way we played in this tournament."
The Lady Rebels, who improved to 15-9 overall, 12-4 at home and 5-3 vs. MWC, won their first conference championship after losing in three previous final matches.
"I felt we had to be at least tied at three after singles to have a chance in doubles so winning those last two matches were crucial," UNLV head coach Kevin Cory said. "The crowd helped us today and the support in the stands helped Britta come through at No. 5 to make it 4-2 our way.
"This is a big step for our program. We were working toward the conference championship for a long time and we peaked at the right time. We are playing our best tennis right now. We came together as a team and I am so proud of how these players competed and poured everything they had out on the courts."
Malec, who won her 15th-straight singles match to move to 35-5 on the year, was named the Mountain West Conference Women's Player of the Year while Cory was voted MWC Women's Coach of the Year.
MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE WOMEN'S TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIP
Championship Match -Fertitta Tennis Complex, Las Vegas- April 29, 2000
(4) UNLV 5, (3) BYU 2
1. Katarina Malec (UNLV) def. Eline Chiew (BYU) 6-2, 6-3
2. Jodi Richardson (BYU) def. Veronica Goude (UNLV) 6-2, 6-2
3. Marianne Bakken (UNLV) def. Kim Kelly (BYU) 7-5, 6-4
4. Tara Ferguson (BYU) def. Urska Radanovic (UNLV) 6-1, 6-2
5. Britta Gabl (UNLV) def. Dominique Reynolds (BYU) 0-6, 6-4, 6-4
6. Amy Hadziosmanovic (UNLV) def. Lu Oswald (BYU) 4-6, 6-1, 6-4
1. Malec/Bakken (UNLV) def. Richardson/Kelly (BYU) 8-2*
2. Chiew/Oswald (BYU) vs. Gabl/Hadziosmanovic (UNLV) halted at 5-4
3. Goude/Radanovic (UNLV) vs. Reynolds/Lisa Khoudoiarova (BYU) halted