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Minutewomen look to start new winning streak with weekend pair

It’s been a while since the Massachusetts tennis team has put together consecutive wins.

Back on Feb. 6, UMass took a 7-0 decision over Siena, a win that sparked a four-match winning streak that extended until its loss on Feb. 27 to Boston College. Following the loss, the Minutewomen dropped another four in a row.

But with a win in its last match to Presbyterian last week, UMass will look to start a new winning streak as it plays twice this coming weekend. The Minutewomen will first travel to face the New Jersey Institute of Technology on Saturday before returning home for a match with Hofstra on Sunday. The Minutewomen (5-6) are coming off a victory over the Presbyterian College Blue Hose that snapped a five-match losing streak.

The Highlanders currently stand at 7-7 on the season and are coming off a 4-3 victory over Seton Hall, one of their notable triumphs that include wins over Bryant, Hofstra and Dayton. Junior captain Ana Lidon won twice in that match, pacing the Highlanders at the No. 2 singles and teaming with sophomore Annie Lovdal to win at No. 2 doubles. Senior Fanny Aizer is the most successful NJIT performer on the year as she holds a 9-2 record at the No. 5 singles.

Junior Nina Mayevska, the No. 1 singles competitor for the Highlanders, fell to Denise Liebschner of Seton Hall, bringing her record on the year to 5-9. She was the 2009 NJCAA Division III Champion at No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles last year for Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, N.Y. She won 25 of 27 matches on the year, and was named to the NJCAA Region XV championships all-tournament team.

This is the first season for the Highlanders as active full-time members of NCAA Division I women’s tennis. They were selected to finish third in the preseason coaches poll in the Great West Conference, which is also in its inaugural season.

The second match of the weekend for UMass is against a youthful Pride squad that returns only three players from last year’s squad.

Hofstra has won its past three matches, which includes wins over Queens College, Towson University and Marist College. They dropped only one match in their latest victory over Marist, sweeping the doubles matches and all but the No. 2 match in singles play.

Last year, the Minutewomen swept Hofstra 7-0 in Amherst. Magdalena Ploch defeated Lauren Clifton 6-1, 6-1 in No. 1 singles play last year, and will hope to do the same again this year as both players return. The lone bright spot for the Pride was at No. 1 doubles, as Clifton teamed with Stacy Kent to defeat Ploch and Tanisha Hodgson. Kent has since graduated.

The Minutewomen also swept Hofstra in 2006-07, as Michele Spiess won two matches to lead the Minutewomen to victory. Maude Lecluyse, who was victorious at No. 3 singles in this match, is the only Minutewomen who played in that match to return for this weekend’s match. No players return for Hofstra.

After this weekend’s matches, the Minutewomen next return to action against Sacred Heart in Fairfield, Conn. It’ll be a one-match road trip for the Minutewomen, as they’ll return to Amherst for the final three regular season matches of the spring season. After that, the Minutewomen will travel to St. Louis, Mo. for the Atlantic 10 championships.

Ben Lambert can be reached at wlambert@student.umass.edu.

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