The Vandals put up a fight in the Washington State Invitational with exceptional performances from a few notable returning players along with freshman, Galina Bykova.
Returning veterans, Almudena Sanz and Vicky Lozano defeated two players from Seattle U each in the first round of Flight 1 singles to reach the semifinals. Sanz fought especially hard but came up short in a three set battle against Maria Biryukova from Washington State. The Vandals were put to the test against players from a challenging crosstown opponent who started off last spring season just shy of the top 25 ranking at No. 32 before sliding down to finish at No. 70 in the nation.
Lozano was also defeated in her semifinal Flight 1 singles appearance by Elizaveta Luzina going 6-2, 6-2. Luzina posted a 25-11 singles record last year. Her 25 wins were the second most in Washington State school history.
“I was more impressed with the victory for Almu in doubles when they won against WSU. That was a very great match, they fought till the very end, won on the tie breaker,” Idaho coach Myriam Sopel said. “In singles everybody played well but I’m really pleased with the doubles this weekend mainly and you can see that in the results, the results speak for themselves.”
Lozano and Sanz were able to work together to perform well in No. 1 doubles and go 5-0 on the day. They started off with an 8-6 win over Dani Young and Katrina Domingo from Eastern Washington. Lozano and Sanz proved that they could keep up with more difficult opponents in doubles play with another 8-3 win against Dajana Ognjenovic from WSU who was paired up with Sarah Lucas from Seattle U.
The doubles team stayed on a roll to raise the bar higher defeating two WSU players in their next opportunity with a 8-7 (7-5) win over sophomore Lize Leenknecht and Luzina. With the victory, Lozano was able to avenge her defeat in Flight 1 singles against the junior from Moscow, Russia, in doubles play. Lozano and Sanz triumphed next over Eastern Washington to finish first in No. 1 doubles overall.
“They kept going for those shots with no regrets no matter what they played very well until the end,” Sopel said.
Another impressive performace came from Bykova, who continues to gain experience losing just 6-5, 6-2 against Leenknecht in the second-flight doubles championship.
The tournament also included a reemergence from sophomore Rita Bermudez in No. 2 doubles where she went 4-1 with partner Belen Barcenilla. Bermudez worked her way up to the semi-finals of the Flight 2 singles as well before being eliminated by Leeknecht 6-3, 6-2. She went on to win the third-place match in the flight. Bermudez, similar to Sophie Vickers, played a very limited role last spring so it is a good sign that both players seem more active within the lineup with Vickers participating in the Cougar Classic last week as well. Sopel expects Bermudez to be an active contributor this season.
“She’s going to be a great asset for the team, she’s been really growing as a player and as a person,” Sopel said. “I’m sure she’s going to do a lot in the lineup next semester.”
The Vandals are on the road this week in the ITA Regionals in Las Vegas. A selection of Vandal players will play into Sunday against other players and teams in the region.
Sopel said Lozano, Sanz, Bykova and senior Beatriz Flores will be the four Vandal players participating in the tournament.
Aaron Wolfe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org