Pilots split matches in home opener

By The Beacon | February 14, 2012 9:00pm

Women’s tennis now stands at 1-2 after matches against Montana and Seattle University

Anastasia Polyakova (Kayla Wong | The Beacon)

By PJ Marcello, Staff Writer -- marcello13@up.edu

In the women's tennis home opener last weekend, the Pilots were edged out 3-4 against Montana and defeated Seattle University 4-3.

The loss to Montana had some extra sting in it as the Pilot's lost not only the match but also one of their top players, freshman Milagros Cubelli, to an ACL tear.

"It was not the best start and it had us a bit shaky I guess," junior Valeska Hoath said. "The next day was about finding a way to win, so SU was a good win and a good indicator for the rest of the season."

Against the Seattle Redhawks, Portland was lead by wins from freshman Nastya Polyakova, junior Sabine Fuchs and junior Valeska Hoath as well as doubles wins by Polyakova/Fuchs, sophomore Alice Tucker and her teammate Hoath.

For freshman Nastya Polyakova, who is from Saint Petersburg, Russia, getting wins at the beginning of the season helps set expectations for the rest of the year.

"I feel really good. I am confident now," Polyakova said. "I want to win every match I play and I don't want injuries to my team."

The Pilots look to make some noise in the WCC this year, but also have an opportunity to surprise some bigger schools as they travel to three Pac-12 universities this season: Oregon, Washington and Washington State.

"This is probably the best team we have had talent-wise since I've been here," Hoath said. "We discussed amongst the team and we want to finish among the top four in the WCC."

The team will travel north to challenge the University of Washington on Saturday, looking to upset one of the three big Pac-12 schools on the schedule.

"It's really different going to big schools. (UW) is one of the nicest places I've ever played," said Hoath. "They do full lineup announcements, the National anthem, and have a good fan base; they really go the whole nine yards, not like in the WCC."

While traveling can be fun to play in different atmospheres, it also takes its toll on the players.

"It is really tough to travel. I feel like I have so much school work and I only sleep like 4 or 5 hours," Polyakova said.

Traveling will be at a premium this season for the Pilots' as they will be on the road for eight straight matches from March 14 to April 1 starting with five matches in California.

For Polyakova, this may have its upside because even Portland's weather has been a nice change.

"It's so hot here. It's like -5 in Russia right now," Polyakova said.

After the Pilots' road trip to Washington, you can catch a match at home when they play city rival Portland State on Friday, March 2.