Second-Seeded Mustangs Upended at Big West Championships
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – Freshman Jennifer Cornea produced the Cal Poly women's tennis program's lone victory on Friday morning during the quarterfinal round of the Big West Conference Championships as the 36th-ranked Mustangs were eliminated by seventh-seeded Cal State Northridge at Indian Wells Tennis Gardens, 4-1.
Chasing the program's first Big West Championships title since 2004, Cal Poly (16-6) finalized just two set victories – Cornea's 6-1, 6-1 sweep of Nigora Sirojiddinovaat No. 4 singles – in being bounced by the unranked Matadors (16-9).
With the victory, Cal State Northridge advanced to face either third-seeded UC Davis or sixth-seeded and defending Big West titlist UC Irvine on Saturday at 3 p.m. UC Davis and UC Irvine opened serve at 3 p.m. on Friday afternoon.
Cal Poly, which opened Big West play with a 6-1 home triumph versus Cal State Northridge on Feb. 6, must wait to see if its No. 36 national ranking merits an at-large spot in the 2011 NCAA Championships. The selection announcement for the 64-team NCAA tournament is scheduled for Tuesday, May 3 at 2 p.m.
"I give full credit to the Matadors – they came out, got the doubles point and it took us awhile to get going in singles. Our players began to fight, but Cal State Northridge's coaching staff prepared well and had a great game plan," 11th-year Cal Poly head coach Hugh Bream said. "They played looser and I think we played to defend our seed. This leaves us on the bubble for the NCAA Championships, a decision that will be left in the hands of the selection committee. I hope we have the chance to play one more time this year but, whatever happens, I'm proud of our players this season for committing so much toward being great."
Cal Poly opened play on Friday by dropping the doubles point for just the sixth time in 22 spring matches. At No. 1, Mustang senior Amy Markhoff and sophomore Alexa Lee dropped an 8-3 decision versus Brooke Doane and Jennifer Sher. Cal State Northridge's Sirojiddinovaand Anna Yang then topped the Mustang freshman partnership of Florence Lehane and Gabrielle Gatewood at No. 2, 8-2. The loss rendered Mustang senior Ashley Pane and junior Jocelyn Davis' match at No. 2 irrelevant.
Doane returned in singles play to best Lee at No. 1, 7-6 (8), 6-3, before Sher defeated Pane at No. 2, 6-2, 7-6 (3). Cornea (above) opened singles play by whitewashing Sirojiddinova, but Cal State Northridge's Lorraine Cheung provided the Matadors the victory with a 6-1, 6-2 victory at No. 6 versus Mustang freshman Kathryn Webb. The loss was just Webb's third defeat in 20 spring outings.
Lehane's match at No. 3 and Davis' contest at No. 5 were both abandoned with the decision finalized.