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Rainbow Wahine make semifinal


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POSTED: Friday, April 24, 2009

Jun Hernandez and the Hawaii women's tennis team aren't satisfied just yet.

The Rainbow Wahine entered uncharted territory with yesterday's 4-1 victory over New Mexico State in the quarterfinals of the Western Athletic Conference women's tennis championships at the UH Tennis Complex.

Fourth-seeded UH (13-12) plays top-seeded and 16th-ranked Fresno State in the semifinals at 3 p.m. as the UH men face Idaho in a quarterfinal on adjacent courts.

Be on guard, Bulldogs. UH's first appearance in the conference final four hasn't sated any appetites, and the Wahine are guaranteed an even or winning dual-match season record for the first time in 10 years.

UH took a hotly contested doubles point and got singles wins from Sophie Kobuch (No. 2 court), Anja-Vanessa Peter (No. 3) and Melinda Wong (No. 5) to end play early on two unfinished courts.

“;I am very happy for the kids, very happy for the program,”; said Hernandez, who posted back-to-back six-win seasons over his first two years. “;I know it's a step forward for where we want to go, but it's still a long ways to where we want to be. Our goal is definitely to win the WAC, and tomorrow is a tough challenge. We're playing a tough team in Fresno State, but I do like our chances. Then again, we have to play well, we have to stay disciplined.”;

The Wahine avenged their season-ending loss to NMSU last year in the WAC tourney in Las Cruces, N.M., and kept up the momentum from their 7-0 sweep of the Aggies last week in their regular-season finale.

All singles matchups were the same, except for the No. 6 court.

A pumped-up Kobuch dominated Laura Boguet 6-0, 6-0, in contrast to her narrow, three-set tie-breaking win over Boguet in Las Cruces. Kobuch—named to the All-WAC second team in singles later yesterday—demoralized her foe with hustle, accurate lobs and winners from all angles.

“;I knew exactly how I needed to play against her,”; the junior from France said. “;Execute my plan, because I knew her from last week. For sure (she got demoralized) because she saw how tight it was last week. She probably didn't expect it to go that fast, or for me to play that well.”;

Kobuch's teammates fed off her winning cries and Peter posted a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Stephanie Eusebe about 15 minutes later.

Peter, one of four freshmen who start for the Wahine, is ready for the rematch with Fresno. The Bulldogs won 6-1 last Friday.

“;The thing is, Fresno is the top seed,”; said Peter, of Germany. “;They have to watch out, they have to feel the pressure. We have nothing to lose.”;

While NMSU notched a win—Isabela Kulaif beat Alyssa Nafarrete on the No. 6 court to pull within 3-1 in the team standings—Wong ended any remaining suspense by taking five straight games from Natalia Salum Soto to close out a 6-4, 6-2 win.

“;It feels so good (to get the clinching win). It's my last year, so I hope we can win it,”; the senior from Seattle said.

On the men's side, Dennis Lajola was named to the All-WAC first team yesterday, while Sascha Heinemann and Andreas Weber earned second-team honors. Heinemann became the first Warrior to receive All-WAC honors four straight years.