September 29, 2013

Coach Vlasak impressed with Women's Tennis showing at USAFA Invitational

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USAFA Invitational Results

Collin Boyles
UNCBears.com

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Head coach Brenda Vlasak left the USAFA Invitational in Colorado Springs, Colo., very impressed with her team's work over the weekend. The women's tennis team earned wins and a consolation title on the final day of action.

"I was proud of the three days that we spent at Air Force," said Vlasak, "and having nine to 15 matches in a day, we had a pretty darn good record. It was a quality showing and in my opinion, the best representation of my team since being at Northern Colorado."

The team totaled 16 wins over the weekend including two consolation final titles and a fourth place finish. The Bears took six doubles matches and 10 singles over the weekend.

Seniors Adriana Nieto and Stephanie Catlin both put up solid performances in the "A" flight singles. Nieto wrapped up a 2-1 record with a comeback 2-6, 6-3, 10-4 win over Miranda Podlas of Buffalo to take the consolation title. Nieto was on the path to play Catlin in the final until Catlin was sent to the seventh place match against Tanvi Shah of Buffalo. Catlin took eighth in the bracket, but not before she made a big impression with her coach.

"Nieto and Catlin both had some breakthrough performances," Vlasak said. "In particular Catlin beating (Adriana) Wojakowska [of Colorado State] and Nieto winning the consolation. After coming off a year and a half of injury, I feel like (Nieto's) finally playing solid tennis."

Beth Coton was in position to also finish with a consolation title in the "B" flight. The freshman went 2-2 while being taken down by tough a tough competitor from Colorado State in the consolation final. Coton finished with the eighth place finish in just her second tournament at Northern Colorado.

"She is very young and has a lot of talent, a lot of heart and a lot of desire to get better," Vlasak said. "She has been having some decent matches, we just need to find out how to turn the switch on for Beth. Once we turn that switch on she will be a force to be reckoned with."

Junior Chrissie Hoolahan also finished 2-2 over the weekend in the "B" flight. After adapting to her opponents throughout the matches, Hoolahan was able to capture seventh place while beating Gopika Kapoor from Buffalo.

"She went out and took care of business after having a couple matches that she wasn't used to," Vlasak said. "She learned how to adjust and come out and take care of business."

Hilary Walters-West was able to bounce back from two early losses with a win in her final match of the weekend in the "C" flight. The Simi Valley, Calif., native defeated Oana Manole of West Virginia 6-3, 6-2 to take seventh place.

"She walked out on the court with determination and took care of business," Vlasak said. "She played smart tennis and knew how to handle it."

Laura Wehner opened the weekend with a win in during the first round, which guided her overall performance. The freshmen earned two big wins in the "C" flight against Alma Espinosa of Wyoming and Marcelli Magday of Air Force.

"I've seen Laura in a new light in this tournament," Vlasak said. "I've seen her true potential shine through. She has shown great tennis and has the best of her tennis yet to come."

Wrapping up play in the "D" flight was Marissa Baca, Courtney Schulte and Taylor Schumacher. Baca and Schulte recorded wins in the flight against opponents from Air Force. Baca first took down Hannah Garcia-Park in the second round while Schulte defeated Jocelle Rudico in the final round. Baca and Schulte finished 1-3 while Schumacher finished 0-4.

"Marissa and Taylor showed fight and the desire to win," Vlasak said. "We just need to take the next three days before the next competition to get better. We need to work on adapting to the changes that we're not used to.

"(Schulte) struggled big time yesterday. It was an emotional day, her tennis game was lacking and not up to her potential. [After reevaluating], Courtney showed up (Sunday) and showed her true potential and showed why she's here. She played quality tennis and I was proud of her."

Catlin and Coton finished 2-2 in the "A" flight doubles, finishing with the seventh place title. The duo was able to outlast Colorado State opponents Mollie Cooper and Lauren Pick in a close 8-7 (6) match.

"This was a good match," Vlasak said, "but we did make the task a little harder than it should have been. We are learning to close out, but I do see the potential in this team and they do have great opportunities ahead, we just have to clean things up."

Baca and Wehner earned a consolation title win in the "B" flight doubles. Vlasak decided to pair Wehner and Hoolahan together during the final day, though, and the two played a close match against a West Virginia duo. In the third place match, Hoolahan and Wehner were not able to grab the win, but earned fourth place after the 8-4 loss.

"This was one of the more fun matches I watched all weekend," Vlasak said. "It was so much fun to watch these girls take risks, play high percentage doubles, communicate on court and show the true qualities of a doubles pairing. I was pleased with these two performances."

The Bears look to turn around next weekend and compete in Fort Collins, Colo., at the CSU Invitational. The final showing before the USTA/ITA Regionals in Las Vegas, Nev., will start on Friday, Oct. 4 and finish on Sunday, Oct. 6. The final results from the USAFA Invitational will help UNC build for the future of this season.

"We've played this tournament going on 12 years now and over the years we've slowly had better results," Vlasak said, "and this year was a big jump compared to past years we've played here. It was the same quality of teams, but we stepped up."