April 21, 2008

Women's Tennis Movin' On

April 21, 2008

Big Sky Tennis Championship bracket

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Bears are in.

Thanks to two victories against conference teams Weber State and Idaho State two weekends ago, Northern Colorado's women's tennis team has qualified for the Big Sky Conference Tennis Championship. The event is scheduled to be held from Friday to Sunday, April 25 to 27, in Sacramento.

The Bears are just the fourth team in school history to qualify for a Big Sky tournament, joining Northern Colorado's women's volleyball team, women's basketball team and women's soccer team.

"From the beginning of the season, we've been stressing that a main goal of ours was to make the Big Sky Conference Tennis Championship," Northern Colorado coach Brenda Vlasak said. "Through all of our work this year the girls have been pushing each other toward that goal, and I'm really proud of them. And to do it in our first year of being eligible, that just makes it even better."

The Bears (7-13, 3-5 in the Big Sky) have earned the sixth seed on the bracket and will play third-seeded Montana State (11-5, 6-2) in the event's first quarterfinal match at 10 a.m. Friday, April 25.

If Northern Colorado wins that match, it will win face top-seed Sacramento State (19-6, 8-0) in the second semifinal at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 26.

"We played Montana State earlier in the season, and we had a good showing," Vlasak said. "We lost, 7-0, but I think, at any point, it could have gone either way. We were close in a lot of the matches. This is a chance to get some revenge.

"I have seen improvement from the team throughout the whole season, and I think right now we're playing our best tennis. That's what every coach wants."

The Bears will be led in the tournament by junior Tabatha Knop, who's played at No. 1 singles all season and has a 12-8 record, and Knop and junior Manuela Santos, who have been the Bears' No. 1 doubles team this year and enter the Big Sky tournament with a 14-5 record.

The play of Jodi Ciarvella (10-9 in singles) and Tiffany Knop (10-10) will also loom large.

"This team has been the most cohesive team we've had since I've been here," Vlasak said, "and it's a fun group to be around."