Broncos Win First WAC Title in Dramatic Fashion
FRESNO, Calif. - The No. 43 ranked Boise State women's tennis team has captured its first Western Athletic Conference championship following a dramatic comeback from a 3-1 deficit against the Fresno State Bulldogs in the WAC tournament title dual, Sunday (May 2) afternoon, in Fresno, Calif.
"It is the sweetest thing ever," Head Coach Mark Tichenor said after the win. "We've been battling Fresno the last four years. We've been so close, and I think we've been trying too hard to win. The greatest thing about the program is we have girls that fight and never give up. Today we were able to make it happen."
The No. 1 seed Broncos (22-5) fought back from near defeat to win the final two singles matches of the day in three sets, clinching the first WAC tournament title in program history. With the win Boise State ended a streak of four consecutive runner-up finishes at the conference tournament, while also securing an automatic berth to the 2010 NCAA National Championships.
"It is something we've wanted so badly. It is an unbelievable feeling. I always tell the girls I don't dream about sitting on a beach somewhere, I dream of winning the tournament so it is just a dream come true."
The women found themselves behind the eight ball early after dropping the doubles point with losses at No. 1 and No. 3. The Broncos managed a split of the first two doubles matches after Marlena Pietzuch and Stephanie Jasper beat Melissa McQueen and Bianca Modoc, 8-2, at No. 2. But with the ever important doubles point on the line Boise State couldn't capitalize, as No. 45 ranked Pichittra Thongdach and Lauren Megale would lose to No. 79 Laura Pola and Renata Kucerkova, 8-6, at No. 1.
Fresno State would keep the pressure on the Broncos by extending their lead to 2-0 with a win in the No. 4 singles match. Elyse Edwards managed to score Boise State's first point of the day next, however, with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Modoc at No. 5. A Bulldog win at No. 2 singles would put the Broncos dangerously close to defeat, though, making a monumental comeback needed in order to make history.
Pietzuch gave Boise State a big spark in the No. 6 singles match as she beat Julia Gragera-Cano, 7-5, 6-1, to narrow the team score to 3-2. No. 51 ranked Thongdach then showed her resiliency by earning a 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 third-set win over Kucerkova at No. 1. With the dual tied 3-3, and the conference championship hanging in the balance, all the attention turned to court No. 3.
After falling behind with a first set loss, Boise State senior Bianca Jochimsen responded by winning the second set of her match against Pola. Jochimsen would jump out to a 3-1 lead in the third, but couldn't hold off Pola as she rallied to tie the set at 4-4. But just as it looked like the Broncos run may have come to an end Jochimsen took control, as she would win the next two games to finish off the 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 win.
"Bianca kept making things happen and making things happen. You just want to get to five first, and she was able to. It was great having our two seniors winning the last two matches. I can't even remember what happened on the last point; I just knew it was out when she hit it. It was going in slow motion."
The win marks Boise State's 10th straight, giving them a great deal of momentum heading into the NCAA tournament. The Broncos will look to build upon a historic 2009 season when the Broncos won their first ever NCAA tournament dual before falling in the second round. Boise State will learn its fate for nationals on Tuesday (May 4) when the NCAA tournament field is announced.
2010 WAC All-Tournament Team
Julia Gragera-Cano/Anastasia Petukhova, Fresno State
Stephanie Jasper/Marlena Pietzuch, Boise State
Renata Kucerkova/Laura Pola, Fresno State
Bianca Jochimsen, Boise State
Renata Kucerkova, Fresno State
Maria Mizyuk, Nevada
Gabriela Niculescu, Idaho
Anastasia Petukhova, Fresno State
Pichittra Thongdach, Boise State
#43 Boise State 4, Fresno State 3
Doubles: (Order of finish: 2, 3, 1)
1. #79 Laura Pola/Renata Kucerkova (FS) def. #45 Pichittra Thongdach/Lauren Megale 8-6
2. Marlena Pietzuch/Stephanie Jasper (BSU) def. Melissa McQueen/Bianca Modoc (FS) 8-2
3. Anastasia Petukhova/Julia Gragera-Cano (FS) def. Elyse Edwards/Bianca Jochimsen (BSU) 8-4
Singles: (Order of finish: 4, 5, 2, 6, 1, 3)
1. #51 Thongdach (BSU) Kucerkova (FS) 6-4, 2-6, 6-1
2. #14 Petukhova (FS) def. Megale (BSU) 6-4, 6-3
3. Jochimsen (BSU) def. Pola (FS) 5-7, 6-4, 6-4
4. McQueen (FS) def. Jasper (BSU) 6-0, 6-2
5. Edwards (BSU) def. Modoc (FS) 6-2, 6-2
6. Pietzuch (BSU) def. Gragera-Cano (FS) 7-5, 6-1
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