Women’s tennis dominates at home

Angel Guerrero

In their first home game of the season, the Sacramento State women’s tennis team came out swinging against the visiting Portland State Vikings at the Rio Del Oro Racquet Club on Saturday, Jan. 30.

The Hornets swept Portland State in doubles play beginning with sophomore Emily McColl and junior Andie Mouzes defeating Kelsey Frey and Sabina-Elena Preda by the score of 6-2 in No. 3 play. No. 1 juniors Deimante Bulatovaite and Alina Soltanici continued the trend, defeating Tracy Dong and Siena Peri, 6-4. Senior Jennifer Ong and sophomore Ana Loaiza Esquivias finished No. 2 doubles play with a 7-5 rally against Taylor Rees and Dane Vorster.

This doubles dominance didn’t go unnoticed on the scoreboard nor in the minds of Sac State players, including McColl who remembered last year’s result all too well.

“It was great because last year (against Portland State) we lost the doubles point, so we came back strong this year,” McColl said. “Especially No. 2, to comeback after being down 5-2. It was a really good way to start our conference.”

Ong and Loaiza Esquivias began singles competition the same way they ended doubles play, which was full steam ahead. Ong, at No. 2, won decisively against Peri by a score of 6-0, 6-1. Loaiza Esquivias then went on to defeat Dong 6-1, 6-1 at No. 3.

Momentum continued to work in the Hornets’ favor as Mouzes beat Rees 6-2, 6-3 in No. 6 action, thus guaranteeing victory for Sac State, as their 4-0 team lead was insurmountable.

McColl, having won her first and only matchup earlier in the day, had time to analyze her team and offer thoughts on what can be expected from the 14-time Big Sky champion Hornets.

“I think we have a really great team right now. Everyone from one through eight is on a pretty steady level. Everyone is trying super hard, everyone is extra practicing,” McColl said. “We have great captains that are motivating us. I think this is going to be a really good year for us.”

No. 1 Soltanici sustained the Hornets’ win streak with a 6-4, 6-1 conquest over Vorster in a battle of opposing captains. In fact, not only were both competitors captains, but Soltanici admitted that they’ve met now three years in a row.

“I was a little nervous at the beginning and I was a little down because this girl is playing very active and I was just a little bit softer trying to catch my breath, but as soon as I got my game I started thinking more about my shots, about my movements,” Soltanici said. “I started being more relaxed and I think this helped a lot to come back and win the set and then as soon as I won the first set I just felt so much better and easier and I started just playing my game.”

The last matches of the day were the closest as No. 4 Bulatovaite eked out a 7-6, 7-6 win against Preda. Freshman Sofia Wicker of Sac State gave up the only Hornets’ loss against Frey in a third set tiebreaker.

Soltanici, co-captain of the team along with Ong, believes in the importance of unity and presenting a good example to younger players, such as Wicker, through support.

”We are trying to support each other no matter what the score is, no matter if somebody lost, we’re just trying to be supportive of each other,” Soltanici said. “I think that it’s been going pretty great, the girls are amazing, they’re working really really hard and they’ve been winning some amazing matches, so I feel like our team is very good this year.”

Sac State’s next opponent will be UC Irvine on Saturday, Feb. 6 in the UC Irvine Tennis Stadium.