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MW tennis preview: How CSU stacks up against rest of conference

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Collegian | Samantha Nordstrom
Colorado State University graduate student Radka Buzkova high-fives and celebrates with her teammates after the CSU women’s tennis team defeats Utah State University 4-1 March 23.

Despite the No. 1 seed New Mexico Lobos (19-2, 8-1 MW) crushing the Mountain West Conference during the dual season, the remaining programs had to battle to the very end of the regular season for seeding. 

The first matches of the Mountain West women’s tennis championship will take place Wednesday, April 24, in Las Vegas. The top five seeds won’t play until 10 a.m. PST Thursday, April 25.

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New Mexico (19-2, 8-1 MW)

Heading into the Mountain West championship ranked first, Lobos women’s tennis has the hot hand, only losing two matches during the spring set, making New Mexico the most feared team in the MW.

Kindled with success, UNM hasn’t had any issues during the dual season despite the single conference loss to the No. 2 San Diego State Aztecs and a nonconference loss to Montana State earlier in the spring.

Leading the charge for the Lobos is Leonie Hoppe, who has 22 wins throughout the season and a 7-0 conference singles record. 

Not too far behind Hoppe is Hsuan Huang with 17 singles wins in the year and 21 doubles victories.

Awarded the No. 1 seed, UNM will play the winner of the No. 8 San Jose State game against No. 9 Boise State

San Diego State (13-6, 7-2 MW)

Despite San Diego State losing their final match of the season to UNLV, the Aztecs still remain the No. 2 seed heading into the Mountain West championship.

The Aztecs finished with a 7-2 record in conference play, during the team had a six-match win streak until the loss to UNLV.

Andjela Skrobonja has been a force to reckon with throughout the year; Skrobonja ranks No. 88 in the NCAA top 100 and will look to continue her domination into the championship. 

The No. 2 seed Aztecs will play the winner between the No. 7 and No. 10 seeds.

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Wyoming (16-9, 7-3 MW)

The Wyoming Cowgirls have fared well during conference play this dual season, finishing with a 7-3 record and picking up losses against Nevada, San Diego State and New Mexico.

Sneaking their way into the No. 3 spot with a win over the Colorado State Rams, the Cowgirls have put themselves in a comfortable position heading into the tournament.

Their 9-1 home record during the season is certainly impressive considering the competitiveness of the Mountain West, but their road record of 3-6 doesn’t show the same performances. 

Notable players for Wyoming are Noesjka Brink, who finished with a singles record of 17-5 on the dual season and with a 7-2 record in conference play, and Sophie Zehender, who battled for the No. 1 spot in the rotation for the Cowgirls, ending the dual season with a 17-7 singles record.

Zehender also dominated in the doubles portion of her matches, finishing with an 18-4 record partnered with teammate Violetta Borodina.

The No. 3 seed Cowgirls will face off against the winner between the No. 6 seed Colorado State and No. 11 seed Air Force

UNLV (14-7, 7-3 MW)

UNLV has a slight advantage over the rest of the teams in the Mountain West Conference; the tournament will be held in Las Vegas. 

The Rebels finished just inside the top three with conference losses coming to New Mexico, Wyoming and Colorado State, and that home-state advantage will certainly come in handy if they decide to make a run.

UNLV’s Salsa Aher has been a problem for opponents this season, as she picked up her 14th singles match victory, finishing with an dual record of 14-5 and 6-3 in conference.

Adding to UNLV’s success is the No. 3 spot in the rotation, Cindy Hu, who performed well during the dual season, finishing 14-6 in her singles matches and 7-3 in conference play.

UNLV has also fared well in their doubles matches during the dual season, finishing 33-18, with duo Coco Zhao and Hu leading the way with a record of 13-5. 

The Rebels (No. 4 seed) will be playing the No. 5 seed Nevada Wolf Pack. 

Nevada (11-8, 5-4 MW)

The No. 5 spot in the Mountain West conference belongs to the Nevada Wolf Pack after they ended their season with a three-match win streak.

Similarly to Wyoming, Nevada has performed well at home this season, going 5-0, but did not live up to the same expectations on the road. Their four losses in the conference came from New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV and San Jose State. 

Nevada’s No. 1, Wiem Boubaker, finished her dual season with a 14-4 singles record, including an undefeated showing in conference, going 4-0.

Boubaker was the spark plug the Wolf Pack needed in order to be in the position they are heading into the championship, considering her ability to win close matches.

No. 5 Nevada will match up against the No. 4 seed UNLV in Las Vegas. 

Colorado State (9-11, 5-5 MW)

The Colorado State Rams were certainly hoping for a better season than they’ve had, but with the Mountain West Conference championship approaching, now would be an ideal time for the Rams to flip the script and cash in big in Las Vegas.

The Rams have played tremendous tennis at home, pulling out a 7-4 record with only two of those home losses from conference play, but the road matches were the complete opposite, finishing 2-7 outside of Fort Collins. 

During conference play, the Rams lost to New Mexico, Nevada, San Jose State, San Diego State and Wyoming while picking up wins against Air Force, Utah State, Boise State, Fresno State and UNLV.

CSU’s Zara Lennon and Radka Buzkova matched up well against their opponents, both finishing with positive singles records. 

Lennon shifted into the No. 1 spot in the rotation early on in the dual season and has made a name for herself, finishing 15-9 in singles matches and 4-3 in conference.

Buzkova is considered one of the best tennis players this program has seen, posting back-to-back All-Mountain West player awards in the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons, and is tied for fifth in program history in career singles dual wins.

Buzkova finished her dual season with a split 12-13 record and a 6-3 record in conference.

Both graduate students for CSU, the championship will be Buzkova and Lennon’s final chance to play in green and gold as they look to close out their careers on a positive note.

The Rams will finish as the No. 6 seed and will play the No. 11 seed Air Force Falcons 10 a.m. PST Wednesday, April 24, in Las Vegas.

Reach Luke Hojnowski at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter at @Lukehojo.

Interested in more sports content? Sign up for Ram Report here for weekly CSU sports updates!

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