STEPHENVILLE – Stephenville is the place to be this weekend for the Western Athletic Conference women’s tennis teams.
There will be six matches between all six teams that make up the Southwest Division of the WAC on Saturday and Sunday at the Potishman-Lard Tennis Courts – Tarleton, UTRGV, Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston, Lamar and Abilene Christian. Tarleton’s pair of matches are at 12 p.m. CT each day, first against Sam Houston, then against UTRGV.
The winner of the weekend may very well end up being the WAC regular season champion, since there are only five technical conference matches per team in 2022. That’s a shame for a team like Tarleton, who is already 6-0 against WAC teams this year, as just two were considered conference matches.
The Texans are tied atop the Southwest Division with the Vaqueros at that 2-0 mark, and are 4.0 matches ahead of them in the overall standings. SFA and Sam Houston are each 1-1, while Lamar and ACU are each 0-2.
The Texans have won four straight, eight of their last nine and 14 of their last 16 matches. They’re 15-4 overall, matching their most wins in a season over the past 15 years. With a win this weekend, they’ll have their most wins in a single-season since Tarleton went 25-4 in 2005-06.
This might be the most impressive of teams the Texans have ever had, now that they’re an NCAA Division I team playing against NCAA Division I opponents. Tarleton is 13-4 against D1 programs so far this year, with two of those losses at the hands of current No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 7 Texas A&M, both on the road.
Five of Tarleton’s top six singles players own winning records. Celia Vaudiau leads the group at an incredible 17-1 mark with an active 17-match winning streak. In the Division I Women’s ITA Collegiate Tennis Rankings, only three of the top 125 players have lost fewer matches than Vaudiau this season.
In the top flight, Deniza Marcinkevica boasts a 10-5 record with four straight wins. Martha Makantasi, the reigning WAC Singles Athlete of the Week, is 14-4 on the year, all matches played at the Nos. 1-3 positions.
In doubles, the Texans are 34-15 in dual matches, a .694 winning percentage from the group. As a team, they’ve won the doubles point in seven straight affairs, no more critical than last week in a 4-3 overall win over New Mexico State.
Vaudiau and Faustine Palatte won the WAC Doubles Team of the Week award with a 2-0 stretch last week, winners of four straight matches. Marcinkevica and Jemi Aguilar are each 12-3 in doubles to lead the purple and white.
On Saturday, Sam Houston will bring their six-woman lineup to Stephenville to match up against the Texans. Sahithi Vutukuru has the best singles record on the team at 10-4, although Megan Basson has been the No. 1 player most of the year, 5-7 in singles.
The Bearkats have won three of their last four matches after winning just a single time in their previous seven-match stretch.
On Sunday, the Texans and Vaqueros will square off for the second time this season. Tarleton swept them 7-0 already, on Feb. 20. UTRGV picked it up after the sweep, winning five of their next six matches. They’ve suffered three straight defeats though entering the weekend, losing to New Mexico State, UTEP and Texas Tech.
Isabelle Bahr has been the primary player at the No. 1 position for UTRGV. Marcinkevica defeated her 6-1, 6-1 in the first matchup. Also that day, Makantasi swept Lea Karren 6-0, 6-0 at No. 3, and Vaudiau blasted Kristyna Mamicova 6-1, 6-1 at No. 5.
These are the last two home matches Tarleton will play this season. There will be just one match left after the weekend for the Texans, a road conference battle at Abilene Christian on Saturday, April 16.