Event: Big West Conference Championships
Records: Aggies 11-11 (6-2)
Where: Indian Wells Tennis Garden — Indian Wells, Calif.
When: Friday at 8 a.m.
Who to Watch: Sophomore Megan Heneghan, a freshman in the top singles spot last year when UC Davis was upended by UC Irvine in the first round of the Big West Conference Championships.
A year later, Heneghan is still playing No. 1, but has a year of collegiate tennis under her belt. Coach Bill Maze has cited that this will make a difference this year and in the future.
Heneghan almost upset the No. 1 ranked player in the nation when the Aggies played Stanford and won her final three matches of the regular season.
Did you know? At first glance the Aggies’ 11-11 overall record is mediocre at best. Still, UC Davis stands in second place with a 6-2 Big West Conference record.
The women’s tennis program faced arguably the toughest schedule — consisting of 11 ranked opponents — in its history, but playing the top teams has paid off.
The Aggies recently took down No. 66 UC Irvine 5-2. Both teams ended conference play with 6-2 league records, so the victory over the Anteaters earned UC Davis the nod for the No. 2 seed in the Big West tournament.
“I was concerned we overdid it early on,” Maze said. “But they kept their heads up and we knew it was the right move because they’re playing the best tennis of the year right now.”
Preview: The Aggies are rolling right now and have five straight conference victories to show for it.
UC Davis will be looking to make a push in the conference tournament where they had a disappointing loss to UC Irvine last year.
Despite the fact that the Aggies’ lineup looks very similar to that of last year, it is entirely different.
“Last year we had four freshmen on the team, and there’s no way you can go there as a freshman and feel natural, not feel those nerves,” Maze said. “That experience is going to help them. I don’t think they’re going to have that this year.”
Senior Dahra Zamudio will enter her final postseason for the Aggies while freshman Layla Sanders will appear in her first. Zamudio has maintained the No. 2 singles position and seven straight doubles victories, while Sanders has had five straight set victories at the No. 5 position.
UC Davis has also found its groove in doubles; having won the doubles point four straight times despite only winning it four times previously in the season.
UC Davis matches up with seventh seeded Pacific today in the hot climate of Indian Wells and will hope to progress on through the tournament. Should they win, the Aggies will play the winner of UC Irvine and Cal State Northridge.
“The second seed helps us a lot because in the heat, it’s tough grind at Indian Wells so it’s nice to play the No. 7 instead of No. 6 seed,” Maze said. “We beat Irvine earlier, but they’ve won it or made it to the finals a lot in the past so it will not be easy to play them if we advance.”
— Matthew Yuen