Freshman Leads U Netters in Tourney

After competing in the Utah Invitational and showing the massive improvement it had made from a year ago, the University of Utah?s women?s tennis team faced a much more daunting task when it headed to Provo for the BYU Invitational this weekend.

Traditional powerhouses Washington State and BYU were the top teams at the tournament, with Weber State, Boise State and Utah comprising the underdogs trying to knock off the favorites.

Though it didn’t happen on a team-wide basis, one individual Ute did upend a more highly regarded rival.

The surprise for the Utes was freshman Ellen Svensson, who, after losing her first singles match, came back to win the backdraw, upsetting a pair of ranked players along the way.

After defeating CSU’s Amanda Bartz?the 12th-best player in the Central Region, 3 6, 7-5, 10-5, Svensson retired Weber’s Lorena Arias before defeating BYU’s Dominique Reynolds?ranked 11th in the region?by a 7-6, 4-6, 10-7 score.

Svensson was down 7-3 in the tie-breaker against Reynolds and then reeled off 10 straight points to win the match.

?It was fun to watch her determination to fight back, especially while the facility was filled with BYU fans,? said U coach John Tsumas.

Cassie Kasteler played great tennis and reached the semifinals of the top flight singles competition after defeating Washington State?s Nora Caals and Colorado State?s Dasha Zhurin, before falling to BYU’s Lu Oswald 6-3, 6-3.

?[Kasteler] played extremely well and also showed great determination,? Tsumas said.

Sheri Esrock and Alison Hansen each reached the second round of singles flight two before losing to a couple of Washington State players who eventually made it to the finals.

BYU?s Lindsey Ferrell wound up the singles champ in flight one by defeating fellow teammate Oswald.

The doubles play, however, did not go too well for the Utes, as neither team advanced past the second round.

?Our strength was our singles,” Tsumas said. “I was not happy about doubles because we didn?t execute the way we wanted to.?

Irini Kotoglou and Linn Ronnberg lost in the second round to BYU’s Reynolds and Ferrell, 8-2.

Kasteler and Svensson lost in the first round to Washington State?s Fodor and Rogonovic, 8-3.

The winner of the doubles tournament was Boise State’s Hayward and Martinez.

Despite the sloppy doubles play, the Tsumas was still pleased with the team as a whole, and he gained some insight into what the Utes need to work on.

?We gained a ton of confidence this weekend, because we now know that we can compete with teams like Washington State and BYU,? he said. ?We have to learn to finish players in big games, and our doubles teams have to get better.?

Next up for the Utes will be the Central Region Championships, which will take place in two weeks.

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