After a come-from-behind victory to end a marathon match against Nevada, Idaho women’s tennis hopes to keep the momentum going in Bozeman, Mont., this weekend against Montana, Montana State and the University of New Mexico.
Two weeks ago at the Hollingbury Field House in Pullman, the match with Nevada was before Beatriz Flores came in to the No. 6 singles spot to finish the Wolf Pack off with a 6-4 second-set win.
“We were a lot more united than we’ve ever been. Everyone was rooting for Bety, everyone came together as a whole, cheering with her, coming together,” senior Constance Alexander said.
Alexander was put on the No. 1 doubles team with Almudena Sanz against the Wolf Pack but failed to win in doubles for the first time this season. Alexander saw the same types of challenges Victoria Lozano has witnessed against elite players at No. 1 this year. Alexander faced two-time First Team All-WAC singles honoree Michelle Okremchuk and Mountain West Player of the Week Emma Verberne. Alexander’s hard-fought loss in the end was nothing but a testament to the team’s hard-fought 4-3 victory.
“I don’t really look at the rankings or anything. I go in the notion that I’m just going to play my best no matter who’s on the other side of the court,” Alexander said. “Almu and I haven’t played this semester, that was the first time and we didn’t practice together, so it was kind of a throw in, but we played together last semester so we kind of got the groove now and we will be playing together again in Montana.”
Before this thriller the Vandals were 1-4 on the season but now sit at 2-5. The team could flip the season upside down with three consecutive wins this weekend setting them at 5-5.
“The last week helped us as a team a lot. We feel much more positive and stronger to beat more teams. I think that was a very important win and the first of a lot of wins,” Belen Barcenilla said.
Barcenilla won in both singles and doubles against Nevada.
Alexander, tied with Belen Barcenilla in doubles wins on the season with five, has been a huge part of the team’s shift in momentum in her first and final season as a Vandal. Alexander transferred from the same Montana team Idaho will visit this weekend.
“Obviously I’m a little sad but I’m so happy to be here my senior year with the teammates I have and I’m ready to finish strong, put forth all the effort one can bring for every shot, every point and every match,” Alexander said.
Barcenilla is at the exact opposite end as a freshman coming into her first collegiate season this spring. She has established her role as a teammate despite her recent arrival to the program.
“I think it’s been easy coming up here. Everyone helped me since the beginning of the season. It’s not difficult being a freshman — everyone is the same and has the same importance,” Barcenilla said.
The Vandals were scheduled to play Lewis-Clark State College and Gonzaga last weekend in Lewiston but the two matches were cancelled.
“It’s a little bit less of a rush having two weeks instead of one week or five days to prepare,” Idaho coach Myriam Sopel said. “We focus definitely on preparation both mental and physical, taking care of these little injuries everybody has and just getting everyone healthy and ready.”
The Vandals will be playing the first match against Montana State at 2 p.m. Friday followed by Montana the next day at the same time. The Vandals will then play New Mexico at 8 a.m. Sunday before finally coming home to play Eastern Washington March 6.
Aaron Wolfe can be reached at email@example.com