ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The 29th-ranked TCU women's tennis team claimed the 2009 Mountain West Conference Championship by defeating 42nd-ranked UNLV by a score of 4-1 Saturday afternoon at the Jerry Cline Tennis Center. The Frogs' captured their second tournament championship in four years since joining the league in 2006, going 10-1 against the conference in 2009.
The 24th-ranked TCU tandem of Macall Harkins and Anna Sydorska picked up the first win for the Frogs with an 8-3 triumph at the Rebels' Kristina Nedeltcheva and Katy Williams. The TCU duo finished the season with a 4-1 record against the MWC and 11-8 overall.
With the win, Sydorska picked up her 103rd career doubles win, just two victories shy of matching Lori Nelson for the program record. The Lviv, Ukraine poduct also surpassed former All-American Ana Cetnik in career combined wins, notching her 176th victory as a Horned Frog to tie Angela Bartzen and Teresa Dobson for the fifth-most career victories in TCU history.
"I'm so happy for Anna for nailing down her 103rd doubles victory," TCU head coach Jefferson Hammond said. "She has been a big part of this program and I'm happy for her success."
After UNLV picked up an 8-5 win over junior Nina Munch-Soegaard and sophomore Maria Babanova from the No. 3 position to even the doubles tally at 1-1, the Frogs' All-MWC doubles pairing of sophomore Katariina Tuohimaa and freshman Kayla Duncan clinched the doubles point for the Purple and White with a 9-7 decision at No. 2 over the Rebels' Alisa Razina and Anna Maskaljun.
"Maria and Nina fought hard, but UNLV played well from the three spot," Hammond said. "It is so great to have Nina back in the lineup. We haven't had her on a road trip in a long time."
"We really have played well in the tournament," Hammond said. "We really love Albuquerque as we are now 15-0 in four years here. Two doubles really came through when it was one all. They played sound tennis when it got close. I'm really proud of them."
Harkins captured a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Nikol Dimitrova at No. 2 to give TCU a 2-0 advantage in the match. Hailing from Palos Verdes, Calif., Harkins posted a record of 7-1 in Mountain West Conference action to garner All-MWC singles considerations.
"Harkins really stepped it up and got a quick point for us which calmed everybody down," Hammond said.
The Rebels cut the Frogs' lead in half as Maskaljun topped TCU sophomore Idunn Hertzberg from the No. 5 position in straight-sets by a score of 6-2, 6-4.
"Idunn fought really hard in the second set and it looked like she might take it to three," Hammond said.
Freshman Gaby Mastromarino gave the Frogs' a 3-1 lead with a 7-6, 6-2 triumph over Terzierva from the No. 6 slot. The Tequesta, Fla., native battled back to take the first set in a tiebreaker before jumping to an early 3-0 advantage and running away in the second stanza. Mastromarino finished MWC play with a 6-4 singles record and 12-10 clip overall.
"Gaby played great tennis this week, but more importantly, she stayed mentally strong in all three matches and really showed a new level of maturity," Hammond said.
Minutes later, Tuohimaa clinched the championship for TCU in dominating fashion, routing Williams at the No. 3 position by a score of 6-3, 6-2. The All-MWC singles selection leads the Frogs with a 16-8 overall record and earned a 9-1 clip against the league.
"Katariina competed extremely well and played a very nice match to clinched it for us," Hammond said. "It was neat to see the kids be able to celebrate together after a lot of work this year."
"Kayla lost the first set of her match, but fought hard and was controlling the second set when we finished," Hammond said. "She has just been a warrior and a fighter all year."
TCU has now lifted six conference trophies into the air, garnering a title from the Southwest Conference (1991), WAC (2000, 2001), Conference-USA (2002) and MWC (2006, 2009).
"It feels awesome right now. I didn't even know that I clinched at first, because I actually thought Gaby was still playing," Tuohimaa said. "We are all playing pretty well right now, and if we stay sharp and focused, we will be confident heading into the NCAA Tournament."
With the win, the Frogs improved to 16-10. The Horned Frogs earn the league’s automatic bid to the 2009 NCAA Women’s Tennis Championship. The rest of the 64-team field will be announced live on ESPNEWS Tuesday, April 28, at approximately 6:20 p.m. CT.
No. 2 TCU (16-10) def. No. 1 UNLV (20-7), 4-1
1. Nina Munch-Soegaard (TCU) vs. Kristina Nedeltcheva (UNLV), 7-5, 2-6, 2-1, unfinished
2. Macall Harkins (TCU) def. Nikol Dimitrov (UNLV), 6-3, 6-2
3. Katariina Tuohimaa (TCU) def. Katy Williams (UNLV), 6-3, 6-2
4. Kayla Duncan (TCU) vs. 3-6, 5-4, unfinished
5. Anna Maskaljun (UNLV) def. Idunn Hertzberg (TCU), 6-2, 6-4
6. Gaby Mastromarino (TCU) vs. Rumyana Terzierva (UNLV), 7-6, 6-2
Order of Finish: 2, 5, 6, 3*
1. Harkins/Sydorska (TCU) def. Nedeltcheva/Williams (UNLV), 8-3
2. Duncan/Tuohimaa (TCU) def. Razina/Maskaljun (UNLV), 9-7
3. Dimitrova/Terzierva (UNLV) def. Babanova/Munch-Soegaard (TCU), 8-5
Order of Finish: 1, 3, 2*