Young Wahine tennis team falls to Fresno, looks to future


POSTED: Saturday, April 25, 2009

Their season is done, but their impact should last.

The Hawaii women's tennis team fell to No. 16 Fresno State 4-0 yesterday in the Western Athletic Conference tournament semifinals, ending a year of impressive improvement for the Rainbow Wahine.

A young Hawaii team—with four freshman starting in its top six—hung tough with the top-seeded Bulldogs for a time, but the favorite sent the host packing on its home courts. It was the Wahine's first WAC semifinals appearance.

UH coach Jun Hernandez exceeded his win total from his first two years combined. The Wahine (13-13) finished without a losing dual match record for the first time in 10 years.

“;They definitely improved tremendously from when I saw them in the fall,”; Hernandez said. “;They kept improving, and with four freshmen in the top six lineup, that's definitely an amazing thing. It's just the beginning, a bright future for the program.”;

The Wahine were at a disadvantage early when they dropped the doubles point to the Bulldogs.

Anja-Vanessa Peter was one of the freshmen who stepped into the program and made immediate contributions. She fell to No. 66-ranked Renata Kucerkova, 6-2, 6-2.

“;We were fighting really hard,”; said Peter, of Germany. “;Even though our backs were against our walls, still hanging in there. It's just sad that we lost.

“;I think we really changed something in UH tennis,”; she added. “;I really hope it's going to be better in the next years—we'll be a ranked team or maybe make it to the NCAAs, win the WAC.”;

Ellen Linsenbolz and Sophie Kobuch—UH's top two players—and freshman Aglae Van den Bergh didn't finish their matches, as Melinda Wong and Alyssa Nafarrete lost to Laura Pola (6-4, 6-2) and Bruna Paes (6-3, 6-1) on the Nos. 5 and 6 courts. When Peter lost at No. 3, it clinched the decision for Fresno.

Wong, the team's lone senior, cherished her first and last season at UH after transferring from Washington.

“;I wish I had more eligibility,”; Wong said. “;The girls and coaches are just amazing, and they made my last year so great. I really couldn't have asked for any more. Today, (Fresno) just played a little bit better. Everyone was competing on every court, it could have gone either way. Today just really wasn't our day.”;

Fresno advanced to play Boise State in the tournament final today at noon at the UH Tennis Complex.