Eleventh-year head coach Bill Maze has been saying it all season, and the UC Davis women’s tennis team keeps supporting it.
“We are definitely tough, and I think the best team I have ever had in Davis,” Maze said.
The Aggies (11-7, 3-3) won two of three matches in their final homestand of the 2008 campaign, downing both Portland and Cal State Fullerton in shutout fashion.
Apr. 3 – UC Davis 7, Portland 0
Since early March, the Pilots have done nothing but win.
On Thursday, no Aggie could lose.
UC Davis iced Portland’s seven-match winning streak, sweeping doubles and singles in a 7-0 non-conference victory at the Marya Welch Tennis Center.
“It’s such a cliché, but I think it was a lot closer than the score,” Maze said.
Herzyl Legaspi and Randi Schuler were down 4-2 in No. 1 doubles but battled back for an 8-5 victory. At No. 3 doubles Robin Guier and Emma Shapiro were down 4-1 only to win, 8-6.
For Shapiro, it wouldn’t be the last time she responded from an early deficit.
Facing Stefanie Doolittle at No. 5 singles, the junior dropped the first set, 1-6, before winning the final two sets, 6-4, 6-3.
“Emma just keep hanging on and kept grinding away, and eventually she kind of broke down her opponent,” assistant coach Sara Morenc said. “That was impressive in my opinion.”
Added Maze, “She did exactly what we asked and refused to lose in the third [set].”
Saturday – No. 56 UC Irvine 6, UC Davis 1
Don’t mention the phrase “sophomore slump” to Desiree Stone. Her head coach isn’t.
The former freshman phenom has maintained her steady winning ways in her second year. On Saturday, she earned her 11th singles victory over her last 13 matches in UC Davis’ 6-1 loss to UC Irvine.
“[Sophomore slump] doesn’t apply to Desiree Stone,” Maze said. “We just try not to talk to her too much about it – just try to let her keep going.”
Stone defeated Anteaters senior Inna Agababian, 6-3, 6-3. It was the sophomore’s second career victory of Agababian, who she defeated in Irvine last year, 6-4, 6-4.
“Tennis is a lot about matchups,” Maze said. “We were happy to see that matchup again.”
In the rest of play, UC Irvine swept doubles and won the five other singles matches in straight sets. The Anteaters improved their Big West Conference record to 5-1, which is behind only four-time defending league champion Long Beach State (7-0).
“If all the stars had been lined up correctly, I thought we had a chance,” Maze said. “I knew we were up against a very physically and mentally tough team, and that’s exactly the way they were. They just don’t miss balls, they’re very fit, and if you’re going to beat them, you have to earn it. They were just clearly too good that day.”
Sunday – UC Davis 7, Cal State Fullerton 0
If Robin Guier and Kaitlin Callan were going to get wins on Senior Day, they would have to earn it.
And so they did, battling back from first-set losses to win super-tiebreakers in UC Davis’ 7-0 conference win over Cal State Fullerton.
“It’s pretty nice because they’re both roommates and co-captains,” Maze said, “and to finish the last two matches [like that], it was just kind of a perfect ending. We’re happy for them.”
Guier dropped the first set to Titans junior Shelly Injejikian, 6-7 (6), after falling behind early 2-5. She then captured the second set, 6-3, and the decisive super-tiebreaker, 10-1.
“To Robin’s credit, she just maintained her concentration and kept plugging away,” Maze said. “It was just a great way to go out.”
At the fifth spot against sophomore Brandy Andrews, Callan lost the first set, 4-6, before winning the second set, 7-5, and the super-tiebreaker, 10-8.
“I feel like you could say a lot of the same things about Kaitlin,” Morenc said. “She just stuck to her game plan, remained patient and rode out those hot times from her opponent.
“I don’t know why they both got off to slow starts. I think on Senior Day, you want it pretty bad when you’re playing your last home match, so I think that was probably part of the case for both of them. In the end, their desire really got them through the match.”
UC Davis will now take to the road for good, competing in four road matches before the Big West Conference Championships in Indian Wells, Calif.
The team’s first action comes at UC Santa Barbara on Friday at 1:30 p.m.
MICHAEL GEHLKEN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.