Zahnova Leads Cougars to Conference Title
SAN DIEGO -- The 22nd-ranked BYU women's tennis team clinched its second ever Mountain West Conference title today upsetting top seeded New Mexico 4-3 with a come-from-behind win by senior Barbora Zahnova late in the match. With the win, the Cougars earn an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament joining the nations best teams to competing for the national title.
Since 1975, BYU has finished first or second place 27 times in its respective conference tournament. With the win over New Mexico today, the Cougars now hold 19 conference titles in 29 years.
"I am so proud of how our girls fought back today," BYU head coach Craig Manning said. "They all showed so much heart and played as a real team. We let the doubles point slip away from us again and we shouldn't have."
The Lobos gained the early advantage over the Cougars by clinching the doubles point winning at the Nos. 1 and 3 spots. BYU's Hadley MacFarlane and Lauren Jones were unable to finish their match because the point was already determined, but lead their opponents 6-3.
BYU's Olga Boulytcheva fought back in singles to give the Cougars their first point of the match by defeating Michelle Heidbrink of New Mexico in straight sets. MacFarlane and Jones followed Boulytcheva's lead by ousting their opponents in straight sets to give BYU the 3-1 lead.
At the No. 2 singles position, Cougar freshman Sofia Holden couldn't hold on as New Mexico's Iva Gersic blasted past Holden in a 6-2, 6-3 decision.
At the Nos. 1 and 5 spots, Barbora Zahnova and Rebecca Pike battled their opponents to clinch the BYU victory. Zahnova lost the first set to Maja Kovacek 7-6 but came back to blank Kovacek 6-0 in the second set while Pike also split her first two sets against Sandy Lukowski and got down in the third by two games.
Pike came from behind to pass Lukowski in the third set and take the 3-2 lead but fell in the third giving New Mexico the tying point at three a piece.
In their third-set tiebreaker, Zahnova and Kovacek rallied back and forth with Kovacek taking the early third-set lead but Zahnova served to tie the set at four a piece. Zahnova finally overpowered Kovacek sealing the Cougar title with a 6-4 win in the third set.
"I thought all the girls just did an awesome job," Manning said. "Hadley, Olga and Lauren simply destroyed their opponents quickly and before we knew it, we were up 3-1. Sofia was just outplayed by a tough player and Barbora hung in there and showed so much heart. I'm so happy for them."
BYU 4, New Mexico 3
Kovacek/ Lukowski (UNM) def. Zahnova/ Holden (BYU) 8-2
Macfarlane/ Jones (BYU) vs. Gersic/ Ruiz-Fabrega (UNM) 6-3, DNF
Heidbrink/ Robertson (UNM) def. Boulytcheva/ Oswald (BYU) 8-6
New Mexico wins doubles point
No. 1 - Barbora Zahnova (BYU) def. Maja Kovacek (UNM) 6-7, 6-0, 6-4
No. 2 - Iva Gersic (UNM) def. Sofia Holden (BYU) 6-2, 6-3
No. 3 - Lauren Jones (BYU) def. Tiffany Robertson (UNM) 6-2, 6-1
No. 4 - Olga Boulytcheva (BYU) def. Michelle Heidbrink (UNM) 6-1, 6-0
No. 5 - Sandy Lukowski (UNM) def. Rebecca Pike (BYU) 3-6, 6-2, 6-3
No. 6 - Hadley Macfarlane (BYU) def. Tjasa Suvak (UNM) 6-4, 6-0