Both men’s and women’s tennis won more games this season than they lost, and on April 28 both will be playing in Las Cruces, New Mexico in the Western Athletic Championships (WAC).
The teams finished the regular season last week against St. Louis University (SLU), with the men winning 7-0, and the women losing 4-3 on the plaza tennis courts.
“The goal for this year was not to win the St. Louis match or celebrate our senior day – it was to finally get our goal for the season, which is conference,” said senior Mike Psarros.
The Roos won four out of five games in WAC regular season play. The loss to Grand Canyon University (GCU) was decided by a one set margin.
Three of the team’s losses this year have been decided by one game. It’s something that Coach Kendell Hale has noticed, and is working to improve.
“It shows mental toughness to come back and not repeat,” said Hale. “That is huge in our game, when the past doesn’t predict the future.”
The team is led by Aliona Ladutska on court one. She won all but two matches in conference. The losses were against GCU, who is in first place and New Mexico State, who is third.
Yana Grechkina and Thanushree Vale are both undefeated in the WAC. They play on court four and six, respectively.
“It’s our depth – I feel comfortable in every position,” said Hale. “In tennis every position is worth the same point, so that’s just an amazing thing that you can count on number six just like you are with a number one position.”
The Roos finished the regular season with a strong performance against in-state rivals SLU, winning every singles and doubles match played on the day. This was the team’s second 7-0 win in a row.
New Mexico State is undefeated in the WAC and GCU has the second best record. The Roos are 3-2 in WAC play, but are currently on a four game winning streak.
Senior Uldis Gaismins is a good representation of the Roos potential to win the WAC tournament. Against his SLU opponent he lost the first set 2-6. He rallied in the second set, winning 6-4. The third set took so long to complete that many of his teammates had finished their matches and came over to watch.
“Knowing that your team is there behind you, supporting you, gives that inspiration to make that final push,” said Gaismins. “Especially when it’s a close match like that, and there’s a tie-breaker, and we’re trying to win, it’s really huge to have that wall of support behind me.”
He won the third set, 10-7 and clinched the match.
Mike Psarros and Airam Castellano are currently undefeated in double competition in the WAC, and have won 12 out of the 13 matches they’ve played this season.
“We have a good chemistry inside the court, even if I miss a shot or Airam misses a shot, we always say, ‘it’s fine, we’ll go for the next one.’”
The first round of the WAC Tournament is Friday, April 28 in Las Cruces, New Mexico.