13 Dec 2021 | 10:03 | Tennis
The Montana women’s tennis team left no doubt Sunday, defeating rival Montana State for a second time this season 4-3 in a nonconference dual at the Bobcat Anderson Tennis Center in Bozeman.
Montana opened the match with a crucial doubles win to take a 1-0 lead, and with a shuffled singles lineup built a 3-0 lead before MSU won three singles matches to place the win on court six with freshman Ivayla Mitkova.
The Griz have now won five of their last six matches and improve to 6-4 on the season, while Montana State drops to 1-8.
“We showed a ton of perseverance as a group today. Montana State battled hard, but we were able to step up in key moments to earn a hard-fought college tennis match,” said head coach Steve Ascher.
Alex Walker and Lauren Dunlap got things going for the Griz in doubles with an easy 6-1 win on court two. Montana then clinched the point shortly after with a 6-2 win on three from Mitkova and Maria Goheen that put the Griz out to a 1-0 early lead.
With Ascher shuffling the singles lineup to ensure everyone on the team played a different opponent than last time the Griz played the Cats, UM made the most of an unfamiliar situation in singles.
Defending Big Sky Player of the Week Julia Ronney cruised to a win on court two over MSU’s Mirte Van Baelen 6-3, 6-4 to put UM up 2-0, and Goheen extended the UM lead to 3-0 with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Enni Zander on court four.
But then the Bobcats battled back, picking up three-set wins over Dunlap on court three, Olivia Oosterbaan on court one, and Walker on court five to level the match at three apiece.
Mitkova then picked up arguably the biggest win of her career on court six over MSU’s Jazmin Lerman in straight sets, 7-5, 6-4 to clinch the win for the Grizzlies.
Montana now returns home for its final two matches of the regular season with a pair of duals against rivals Idaho and Eastern Washington on tap, with the outcome determining the Grizzlies’ postseason future. At 1-1 in conference play, the Griz will likely need a win over both to book their ticket to the Big Sky Championship Tournament in Phoenix.