April 3, 2007
Loyola Marymount women's tennis (9-8, 3-2) will play back-to-back games this week when they play Hawaii at the Manhattan Country Club on Wednesday at 12 noon and then travel to No. 37 UC Irvine on Thursday, April 5 for a 1:30 p.m. start time. The Lions enter the match ranked 68th nationally and have the recent West Coast Conference Player of the Month in Pavla Mesterova.
Player of the Month and Rankings
After being out of FILA Collegiate Tennis Rankings administered by the ITA for over a month, the Lions are back in the rankings at No. 68 thanks in large part to the 4-3 win over Long Beach State last week. In addition, Pavla Mesterova has moved to her highest in-season ranking of her career at #53 thanks to her seven-match win streak. Mesterova's highest ranking ever was at #51 in the preseason ranking in September of 2006. Mesterova was named the WCC Player of the Month for March, going 10-1, winning her last six matches to close the month. She only lost three sets the entire month. Three of her wins came against conference opponents and five more against teams that were ranked in the top-75 nationally. Her only loss came to the 13th ranked player in the country from second-ranked Cal.
Against This Week's Opponents
The Lions will play at the Manhattan Country Club for the third straight year when the host Hawaii on Wednesday. The Lions last played Hawaii in 2005, earning a 5-2 win. The last time the Lions played in Hawaii was in 2001 when they played three matches, including a 4-3 loss to Hawaii. They are 4-12 on the season, losing five of their last six, all coming to teams ranked in the top-50. UC Irvine and LMU have played eavery years since 1978 except for the 2004 season when the match was cancelled due to rain. The Anteaters enter the week ranked 37th in the nation and 16-3 overall. They had won 11 straight before losing to No. 15 Fresno State 7-0 on March 31. They play Saint Mary's on Wednesday before playing the Lions.
Pavla Mesterova and Robyn Baker have solidified the top of the Lions line-up this season, providing a potent one-two punch. The pair play at No. 1 and No. 2 singles, respectively and have combined to win 22 of their last 26 matches. In addition, the pair combine for the Lions' top duo at No. 1 doubles. Mesterova is 22-5 on the season and has won six straight and 13 of her last 14 matches, going 14-2 at No. 1 singles this season. Baker has won her last eight of her last 10 matches, including a win over the No. 16 players in the nation. She is 11-8 overall and 10-6 in No. 2 singles action. In doubles, they are 9-4 this season overall and 9-2 at No. 1 doubles in dual matches.
Last Time Out
Loyola Marymount women's tennis received key singles wins by freshmen Bliss Nixon and Elrien de Villiers to claim 5-2 win over 44th-ranked Long Beach State at the LMU Tennis Center on Thursday afternoon. With the match knotted at 2-2, both de Villiers and Nixon overcame second set defeats to win in three sets. Nixon was the first to give the Lions a match point, earning a 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 victory over Emmanuelle Tabatruong at No. 6 singles. The win gave LMU a 3-2 lead in the match. The match was won when de Villiers took home a 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 win at No. 5 singles. Both Nixon and de Villiers joined the Lions at mid-year, playing their first collegiate matches in January. The Lions began the match by winning the doubles points. Nixon and partner Erin Ivey earned an 8-2 win at No. 3 doubles before Long Beach State would take No. 2 doubles, 8-5. The doubles point came down to No. 1 doubles, where Pavla Mesterova and Robyn Baker continued their hot play with an 8-6 win. The No. 1 duo for the Lions improved to 9-2 in dual matches with their third straight win. Long Beach State would win the first two singles matches, taking No. 4 and No. 2 singles for a 2-1 lead in the match. However, Mesterova would blank Hannah Grady in the second set to win 6-2, 6-0 to tie the match at 2-2. Mesterova is now 22-5 on the season, good for an 81.5 winning percentage that would finish as the best in LMU history for a single season.
Jamie Sanchez is in his 32nd season as head coach of the Loyola Marymount women's tennis program. Sanchez, the program's only coach since its inception, began coaching the team in 1976 and has posted a career record of 416-373 heading into the match against Hawaii. In 2002, Sanchez guided the Lions to their first ever West Coast Conference Championship with a 4-2 win over Pepperdine. With the win, Sanchez and the Lions advanced to the NCAA playoffs as a team for the first time in program history. He was named the West Coast Conference Coach of the Year for the second straight year in 2002 and in 2006 he earned his third WCC Coach of the Year honor. In his 31 years at the helm of the Lions' program, Sanchez's teams have never finished lower than fourth in the WCC.