The UTEP tennis team’s 2009 campaign came to a close at the hands of top-seeded and nationally-ranked SMU, 4-0, in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA Championships Friday morning.
The Miners (16-7) simply had no answer for the No. 23 Mustangs (25-2), who led 1-0 heading into singles play on the strength sweeping doubles. The 28th-rated doubles tandem in the nation, Marta Lesniak/Aleks Malyarschikova, handed Weronika Bloczynska/Megan Pritchard just their second loss in a dual match this year, 8-2.
At No. 2 doubles, it was 74th-ranked Natalia Bubien/Pavi Francis dispatching Martina Trierweiler/Carolina DeLuca, 8-2. Nicole Briceno/Kseniia Tokarieva derailed Ximena Fuentes/Marina DeLuca, 8-1.
UTEP regrouped before the start of singles play, but SMU would come out on top. Lesniak, No. 60 nationally, clipped Bloczynska, 6-0, 6-1, at No. 1 singles while Kristen Reid took down Fuentes, 6-0, 6-1, at No. 6 singles. Briceno bounced Pritchard, 6-0, 6-2, at the fifth spot, which brought the matches at No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 singles to a close as the team outcome had been decided.
Even with the setback, UTEP has plenty to be proud of this year. The Miners set school standards for home victories (9-1), single-season winning percentage (.696) en route to capping the most successful four-year stretch at the institution with 44 triumphs since the start of the 2006 season.
The Orange and Blue compiled a school-record-tying 16 wins, to equal the efforts by the 1995 squad. Playing a large role in that was a seven-match unbeaten streak, the longest in school history, not to mention bursting out of the gates at 8-1. It marked the best start in 10 years and the third-top christening to a campaign ever at the institution.
The Miners advanced to the quarterfinals of the league tournament for the second time in the past three years and the third occasion overall under head coach Jamie Campbell’s direction. UTEP mustered four such showings from 1991-2003, and hadn’t claimed a match at the conference’s pinnacle event since 1999.
The team achievement throughout the campaign also translated into individual success, for the student-athletes and coaching staff alike. Campbell elevated to second place for career winning percentage at UTEP, and she has now reached the 40, 50 and 60 career victory barrier faster than any other coach in program history.
In dual-match singles, UTEP finished with a combined record of 88-40. Seven different Miners boasted winning records, with Marina DeLuca (19), Bloczynska (16) and Pritchard (15) establishing career highs for dual-match. Carolina DeLuca (11) also reached double figures, while Vicky Michaud, Carla Murgia and Trierweiler posted winning slates.
Marina DeLuca was stellar from start to finish in her junior year, registering 24 overall triumphs. She became just the second player in school history to post consecutive 20-victory campaign in singles play. All-time great Tanja Magoc put together four successive seasons.
UTEP impressed in dual-match doubles, as well, checking in a combined 40-15. Pritchard led the charge at 16-2, with 14 of those coming when teamed up with Bloczynska. Trierweiler, both Carolina and Marina DeLuca, and Fuentes also finished with winning marks. Overall, Pritchard was a part of 21 doubles triumphs on the year to tie for the second most ever in a single season at UTEP.