SAN DIEGO - The BYU women's tennis team lost to San Diego St. in the finals of the Mountain West Conference Championships on Saturday in San Diego. With the loss, the Cougars finished the season with a 13-11 overall record and a second-place finish in the MWC.
The Cougars took the early 1-0 advantage by winning the doubles point. With the doubles matches knotted at one apiece, BYU's number three duo of Tara Porter and Olga Boulytcheva battled back from a 5-2 deficit to beat SDSU's Patricia Graf and Katalina Romero, 9-7.
MWC Player of the Year Silvia Tornier got the Aztecs rolling in singles play as she downed BYU's Leeza Klempner, 6-1, 6-1, at the number one spot, tying the score at one. SDSU's Indra Erichsen and Katja Karrento brought home the next two singles wins for the Aztecs at the six and four positions, respectively. Katalina Romero clinched the match for San Diego State with her straight set (6-1, 6-3) victory over the Cougars' Olga Boulytcheva at number three singles.
With the win, the 23rd-ranked Aztecs earn an automatic bid to this year's NCAA Women's Tennis Championships. Aztec head coach Peter Mattera was awarded Coach of the Year honors.
San Diego State pushed its record to 23-5 overall. The No. 54 Cougars fell to 13-11 on the year and must wait until next week to see if they will receive an at-large bid into the NCAA Championships.
Mountain West Conference Women's Tennis Championship
Championship Match - SDSU Tennis Courts, San Diego, Calif. - April 26, 2003
(2) San Diego State 4, (4) BYU 1
1. Silvia Tornier (SDSU) def. Leeza Klempner (BYU) 6-1, 6-1
2. Lindsey Hedberg (SDSU) vs. Dominique Reynolds (BYU) 6-2, 3-4 DNF
3. Katalina Romero (SDSU) def. Olga Boulytcheva (BYU) 6-1, 6-3
4. Katja Karrento (SDSU) def. Hadley Macfarlane (BYU) 6-4, 6-2
5. Patricia Graf (SDSU) vs. Nicole Schneider (BYU) 4-6, 6-2, 0-3 DNF
6. Indra Erichsen (SDSU) vs. Tara Porter (BYU) 6-1, 7-5
1. Tornier/Erichsen (SDSU) def. Klempner/Reynolds (BYU) 8-4
2. Macfarlane/Schneider (BYU) def. Hedberg/Karrento (SDSU) 8-5
3. Porter/Boulytcheva (BYU) def. Graf/Romero (SDSU) 9-7
PROVO -- The fiftieth-ranked BYU women's tennis team is the No. 4 seed this year in the Mountain West Conference tournament, which begins this Thursday in San Diego and runs through Saturday. The Cougars will face Colorado State in the first round. They beat the Rams 6-1 two weeks ago.
BYU comes into the tournament with an 11-10 overall record and a 6-2 conference record. The Cougars have won their last four matches and are playing their best tennis all year.
"We are ready to go," BYU head coach Craig Manning said. "We have our top six girls healthy and we're looking forward to getting things under way."
Having lost only two conference matches all season, the Cougars feel like they have a great chance of winning all three matches in the tournament and claiming the championship.
"Our seed is really good for us," Manning said. "We just beat Colorado State last week, so if we can beat them, we will probably face UNLV. Even though UNLV is the top-seeded team in the tournament, we beat them 6-1 recently, so I feel pretty good about our chances."
The key for the Cougars in the tournament will be the doubles point. BYU has played excellent doubles all year and they are tough at all three positions. Seniors Elizaveta Klempner and Dominique Reynolds have teamed up at the No. 1 position to post a 12-9 overall record. At the No. 2 spot, Hadley MacFarlane and Nicole Schneider finished the regular season on a four-match win streak and a 15-7 overall record. Olga Boulytcheva and Rebecca Pike have only lost two matches all season at the No. 3 position. They are 6-1 in conference play and 16-2 overall.
"I have been very pleased with how our doubles teams have played all season," Manning said. "We just need to keep things going and make sure we get the doubles point."
The singles play for the Cougars has been equally impressive. All but one girl ended the season with a winning record. With injuries to key players on the team, the underclassmen have stepped things up and filled in with consistent play all year.
The two freshmen have been the most notable. MacFarlane has only lost six matches all year while compiling 21 victories playing primarily at the last three singles positions. Boulytcheva has also posted a record of 11-8 in dual match play at the No. 3 spot.
"Our freshmen have really been playing big for us all year," Manning said. "When we had a few girls go down with injuries, I was pretty worried. But they stepped in and played incredible. They didn't play like freshmen."
With the majority of the team in good health and coming off four victories, the Cougars are poised to win big matches and take the MWC championship.