Women’s tennis tames the U.O.P. Tigers 7-2



Clarisse Baca smashes the ball down the middle of the court for a point against UOP in a team match on Saturday.:

Victor Nieto

The Sacramento State woman’s tennis team continued its recent success Saturday with an overwhelming 7-2 victory over the Pacific Tigers at the Rio Del Oro Racquet Club in Sacramento. The power and finesse combo of Junior Katrina Zheltova and Sophomore Melissa Valenzuela lead the way, as the Hornets number one doubles team set a loud and confident tone early on and throughout the day with their play.

The two woman continually responded with a mix of dominating backhands, forehands and lob shot kills that overmatched and frustrated the lady Tigers in an impressive 8-2 victory.

“Melissa and I before the match talked about our game plan to stay aggressive and continue to attack the net and I think we really accomplished that today,” Zheltova said, the Hornets number one singles player.

Valenzuela also recognized the duo’s sharp play saying that she felt her backhand was really working for her and that Zheltova performed exceptionally well in the frontcourt. “As the match continued I felt really comfortable with Katrina in the front and myself playing behind her. We played really well today.”

“That was the best I’ve seen those two (Zheltova and Valenzuela) play all year,” said Head Coach Dima Hrynashka. Coach Hrynaska also had praise for his team’s single play as the lady Hornets won five of six single matches. The lone loss came from freshman sensation and 4-time Big Sky Player of the week Maria Meliuk, who pulled out of her match during the first set with a knee and back strain.

“It’s a long season and these things tend to happen,” Hrynaska said.

Despite the minor setback Coach Hrynashka was confident that his star freshman player would be healthy to go for the Big Sky tournament in a few weeks.

Zheltova and Valenzuela collected additional points for the Hornets with each winning their single matches in straight sets. Seniors Joyce Martinez Gutierrez and Luba Schifris and freshman Clarisse Baca also won their single-match play in convincing fashion.

Earlier in the day Gutierrez and Baca saw their four-match winning streaked snapped against the number two woman’s double team of Pacific.

“I think we lost a little bit of focus going into the match,” Baca said. “We didn’t come out as prepared as I thought we should’ve but I think that loss really got me motivated to do well in the singles match.”

The nationally 49th ranked Hornets have now won five competitions in a row and will head into its next event, the Big Sky Tournament held at Gold River Racquet Club in Sacramento on April 25 -27 with lots of momentum. The Hornets are undefeated in Big Sky play this year and will come in has heavy favorites to win the championship.

Victor Nieto can be reached at [email protected]