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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


W-tennis’ freshman steps up at Pac-10s

Colin Darland / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Colin Darland
Colin Darland / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Last week, Arizona women’s tennis head coach Vicky Maes referred to the Pacific 10 Conference Championships as a gauge for next year’s talent.

If Arizona freshman Natasha Marks is any indication, the future is bright for the women’s tennis program.

In the first round, Marks faced Kelcy McKenna of ASU. McKenna, who was seeded No. 5 in the ITA rankings, was upset just last weekend by another Wildcat – senior Danielle Steinberg. Marks followed in her teammate’s footsteps, beating McKenna 6-2, 6-4.

“”I think Tash (Marks) and Dani (Steinberg) played two completely different games (against McKenna),”” Maes said. “”Tash dominated right from the start, was very aggressive. Dani plays the complete opposite – dragging people down by keeping them on the court as long as possible. Obviously, both times Arizona came out on top. Maybe Dani beating Kelcy gave Tash confidence.””

Marks continued to roll in the tournament, trouncing California’s Bojana Bobusic 6-2, 6-3 in the quarterfinal round and Marina Cossou – also a member of the Golden Bears – 6-2, 7-5 in the semifinal round.

“”She raised her level this week. She played really great tennis,”” Maes said. “”She was a lot smarter, a lot more patient on the court, managed to control her emotions really well. … Sometimes she gets tense (and) doesn’t believe in herself. She beat some really solid players along the way, and now she knows she can beat those guys.””

The freshman would then go on to compete in the finals against USC senior Amanda Fink for the title. She lost the match, which Maes attributed to the disparity in experience level between Fink and Marks.

“”She started off a bit shaky, but she gained her composure and played herself into situations where she had opportunities to win,”” Maes said. “”I think ultimately experience outlasted that match. Tash played solid and I think at the end of the day, (she) just mentally and physically ran out of gas. I think overall it was a little to be expected.””

Marks’ teammates did not fare as well in the tournament. Freshmen Sarah Landsman and Debora Castany, sophomore Jane Huh and senior Steinberg all lost in the first round. Claire Rietsch defeated her first-round opponent Jessica Gomez of Washington State, but then lost in the second to Cal’s Stephany Chang. UA junior Ariane Masschelein had a bye for the first round and lost in the second to Cristala Andrews of USC.

The decision will come Tuesday as to which players will be competing in the NCAA Tournament. Maes was conservative in regards to Steinberg’s chances.

“”Danielle is going to be on the bubble. She didn’t perform as well as she wanted to this week,”” Maes said. “”I certainly feel she deserves it, but a lot of close losses this year have held her back in the rankings.””

After Marks’ performance in the tournament, Maes was cautiously optimistic about her freshman’s chances for a berth in the national championships.

“”The magnitude of it … most people don’t even make it close to the finals. For a freshman to go in there and pull off those impressive wins … that’s really amazing,”” Maes said. “”Not only for this individual performance, but more so going into next season, and Tash now believes she can step up and fit into the number one role very well.””

Men’s tennis looking ahead to NCAA Tournament

With the Pacific 10 Conference Championships out of the way, the Arizona men’s tennis team will now gear up for the NCAA Tournament, which begins May 8.

Of the five players who competed in the weekend’s Pac-10 Championships in Ojai, Calif., three advanced to the second round in singles play. Despite the success in the first round, sophomore Jay Goldman would lose to UCLA’s Matt Brooklyn and junior Pat Metham was taken down by USC’s Robert Farah in the second round. Only sophomore Andres Carrasco would defeat his second-round opponent, UCLA’s Holden Seguso.

However, Carrasco lost 6-1, 6-1 to Stanford’s Alex Clayton in the quarterfinals on the second day of the tournament. The Wildcats would also lose both doubles matches of the day.

“”I thought the guys played pretty good, especially Andy,”” said UA junior Ravid Hazi. “”Jay was playing very good tennis. … We all played good tennis.””

Hazi was unfazed by the team’s short-lived status in the Pac-10 Championships, explaining that the tournament fell in the midst of a tapering period that is a preparation for the national championships.

“”We didn’t take this weekend as a target tournament because this year we made it to (the) NCAA (Tournament) and we are more focused on that,”” Hazi said. “”Two weeks before the Pac-10s they let us have more of a rest, physically and mentally.””

Tuesday will be a critical date for the Wildcats, as that is the day in which the NCAA draw will occur and the Wildcats will find out which teams they will compete against in the tournament.

“”Now we plan on working really, really hard for the next two weeks to be ready for the NCAAs,”” Hazi said. “”The Pac-10 was kind of in the middle, but we didn’t play bad tennis at all.””

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