Tennis hits the road for a second straight week, heads to UNO

NEW ORLEANS – Depth is one of the most important factors to winning a Southland Conference tennis title, and Saturday’s match at New Orleans will feature two of the deepest teams in the league.

NSU (8-4, 1-0 SLC) heads to New Orleans (8-4, 1-0 SLC) for an 11 am start, the second straight one-match week to begin league play.

Both the Lady Demons (6-1 at Southeastern) and the Privateers (7-0 vs. McNeese) were big winners to start off the slate conference, which consists of just six matches because of a smaller SLC.

“Any time you go on the road and get a win in conference play, it’s huge,” said the NSU coach Jonas Brobeck. “We’re looking forward (to another one-match week) because you get more practice days and you can hone in on the things you really need to clean up.”

NSU flexed its depth at Southeastern with all seven healthy players contributing to the victory.

Senior Patrycja Polanska was part of a doubles win with freshman Ayu Ishibashi before sophomore Gig Kanaphuet slid into the No. 6 singles slot and picked up a win.

“In the years I’ve been here, the team with the best depth has won the Southland Conference every year,” Brobeck said. “The team that has the best chemistry and battles for each other along with the best depth I’d ​​say are the biggest things.

“We have a lot of girls that can play every spot, and it’s such an important thing on a team when kids understand their role. When it’s their time to step in, they’re ready to go. It may be both singles and doubles one day, or it may just be one or the other another day. Now that we’re deep into the season, players can get hurt and nobody is 100 percent every day. “

Six of NSU’s seven players have winning records in singles play, and the Lady Demons have particularly excelled in the middle and bottom part of their lineup.

NSU is a combined 26-12 in positions No. 3-No. 6 this season led by No. 3 Mariella Minetti (8-2) and No. 4 Ayu Ishibashi (7-2).

Ishibashi, the SLC Player of the Week this past week, has been especially dominant of late, logging just six dropped games in her last six singles and doubles matches, combined.

Four of six Ishibashi singles sets were decided 6-0, and she and partner Polanska have not allowed more than two opponent points in any of the last three doubles matches.

“I’ve been good because of good positioning and maintaining a positive attitude – that’s gone a long way,” Ishibashi said. “In the fall, (adjusting to college tennis) was hard because everybody in my country (Japan) is so short, and we don’t play with a lot of power.

“Americans and Europeans are taller and have more power, but I’ve been able to position myself on the court well this spring, and that’s helped.”

NSU will see a New Orleans squad that returns three All-Southland Conference players from a Privateers bunch that tied for the regular-season title this past year.

Lina Hohnhold, Ank Vullings and Lea Alguacil play at the No. 1, no. 2 and No. 6 slots in singles, respectively, with a combined 14-7 mark overall.

Hohnhold (6-1) is the reigning SLC Player of the Week after a pair of singles and doubles wins in team victories against Loyola-New Orleans and McNeese.

Returners Mar Gendra (8-2) and Salma Abdelrahim (6-2) lead UNO in terms of wins.

“This is a very good UNO team, a veteran team,” said Brobeck, who has three of his top four singles players being freshmen. “It was a dog fight down there last year as they won 4-3, and it’ll be a tough match again.

“If we take care of our stuff and prepare, we’ll do well.”

NSU has won three of the past four meetings against UNO with its lone loss this past season. The Lady Demons own the all-time series 16-12.

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