Idaho women’s tennis sends three seniors out with home victories
Even in the WAC, the Vandals were familiar with the Montana Grizzlies.
The two teams have faced off in each of the last four springs. Each of the matches had been a hard-fought affair, but the Vandals were always on the losing end, including a 4-3 heartbreaker last season.
Friday afternoon though, the Vandals rectified the losses with a 6-1 victory at the Memorial Gym tennis courts.
“It makes me very happy to be able to send them home with a win over a team that they haven’t beat,” Idaho coach Mariana Cobra said. “It is a historic time for them being at home I think helps a lot. We had an awesome crowd here today.”
The team followed Friday’s 6-1 victory with a 7-0 sweep of Montana State Sunday. The two wins helped move the Vandals one step closer to a first-round bye in the Big Sky Tournament.
The two matches weren’t identical though.
While Friday’s matches were mostly sunny and favorable, Sunday’s matchup with the Bobcats was cold and windy. The match was initially slated for an 11:30 a.m. start, but was post posted to 12:45 p.m. because of issues with the weather.
There was also a brief suspension of play because of hail.
“We were playing in under 50 degrees and wind and cold, so in the beginning it was a little tough for the girls to get going, but they did a great job of staying focused,” Cobra said.
The team adapted to the adversity well, Cobra said. The team has been tested all year and they were up to the challenges, especially with how unpredictable tournament conditions can be.
The wins were a nice senior sendoff, said Emmie Marx, one of the three seniors on the team.
“Today was nice and windy,” Marx said. “You have to move your feet a lot, which I didn’t do, especially in the first set very well, but I picked it up and I played for my team and it went well.”
The Vandals (12-7 overall, 9-1 Big Sky) will try to secure their spot as the No. 2 seed in the Big Sky Tournament Saturday when they travel to Portland to take on Portland State.
Last Friday, the crowd was a new experience for some of the players this year, and although some players said it was a little overwhelming at first, once the nerves calmed down it was a great experience.
“At the very beginning I was a little bit nervous, but then I was kind of proud to play at home and with all of the people supporting me,” sophomore Galina Bykova said.
Bykova had been a force for the Vandals at No. 1 singles all season, and the home stand was no different. She picked up a pair of back-and-forth two set victories to improve her Big Sky record to 10-0.
It didn’t look that way from the get-go, though. After a 6-3 first set victory by Bykova, it took sudden-death point, and a series of serving errors by Montana’s Precious Gbadamosi to seal the win for Bykova and the Vandals.
“It was tough for me, but I knew that I could win this match,” Bykova said. “I just have to believe in myself. I know that people outside believe in me, and that also helps.”
Cobra credited both teams for competing hard and testing the Vandals, especially MSU, who is currently out of the top six in the conference, but is among the toughest teams in the conference. She said the two matches go to show that every team in the conference is tough.
Joshua Gamez can be reached at email@example.com