No. 29 SMU Wins Both Weekend Matches

March 21, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Nate Regan

Despite having both matches moved indoors due to inclement weather, the No. 29 women’s tennis team improved its record to 17-2 with weekend victories over Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Southern Mississippi at Bent Tree Country Club in Dallas.

SMU fell behind the No. 23 VCU Rams (13-3) following losses at Nos. 2 and 3 doubles Saturday, though sophomores Marta Lesniak and Aleksandra Malyarchikova rebounded for an 8-3 win at the top spot.

“We came out a little flat in doubles, which I wasn’t pleased with,” head coach Lauren Longbotham-Meisner said on “But we regrouped during the break and came out with a dominating performance in singles.”

Lesniak, the No. 29-ranked singles player in the country according to the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association release, picked up a straight-set win (6-2, 6-4) at the top spot while freshman Katerina Vankova did the same (6-3, 6-1) at No. 2.

Freshmen Shahzoda Hatamova and Edyta Cieplucha also picked up singles wins at Nos. 4 and 5, respectively, to help the Mustangs clinch the 4-2 victory.

“This was a good win against a Top 25 team, but we need to get more consistent with how we start out in doubles going forward,” Longbotham-Meisner said.

On Sunday, SMU and Southern Miss began with singles matches due to the venue change and court availability at Bent Tree Country Club, and Lesniak helped the Mustangs to an early lead with a win (6-4, 6-2) at No. 1.

Vankova, Malyarchikova and Hatamova followed with straight-set victories at the next three singles spots as SMU cruised to a 4-0 win.

“The singles came out ready to play today again and I was glad to see that,” Longbotham-Meisner said. “After finishing at 10 o’clock last night … it could have been easy to come out sluggish. But the girls were focused and ready and took care of business.”

The team will travel to Waco on Wednesday for a matchup against the No. 1 Baylor Bears (13-2).

No. 29 Mustangs Prep for Weekend Matches

March 17, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Nate Regan

After a two-match sweep over Penn State and Abilene Christian University, the No. 29 women’s tennis team will look to build on its 15-2 record with a pair of weekend matchups against No. 23 Virginia Commonwealth University and Conference USA rival Southern Miss.

SMU swept the Penn State Nittany Lions on Friday before defeating the ACU Wildcats, 4-3, at Turpin Tennis Stadium.

The Mustangs’ top two singles and doubles players – sophomores Marta Lesniak and Aleksandra Malyarchikova – each picked up wins against Penn State, but it was individual victories from freshmen Edyta Cieplucha, Shahzoda Hatamova and Katerina Vankova that sealed the 7-0 shutout.

“They’re stepping up,” head coach Lauren Longbotham-Meisner said of the team’s freshmen. “Sometimes they’re going to have some road bumps, but also what we hope are some really good wins.”

The Mustangs face off against the No. 29 VCU Rams (12-2) Saturday at 12 p.m. before taking on the University of Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (7-6) Sunday at 10 a.m., and both matches will be held at SMU’s Turpin Tennis Stadium.

A Sunday match against the University of Texas-Dallas was cancelled due to scheduling conflicts.

The team will travel to Waco next Wednesday for a matchup with the No.1 Baylor Bears (11-2), who have the nation’s top ranking for the first time in school history.

“We have absolutely nothing to lose [against Baylor],” Longbotham-Meisner said. “We feel we’re just as good as they are, and if we get the win it’s a huge boost.”

SMU Downs Southern Miss at Moody, 81-66

February 27, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Nate Regan

The women’s basketball team earned a first-round bye in the 2010 GMC Sierra Conference USA Championship Tournament with an 81-66 victory Sunday over the University of Southern Mississippi at Moody Coliseum.

SMU (19-9, 9-6 C-USA) was led by 22 points from junior forward Haley Day and 11 rebounds from senior guard Brittany Gilliam, who also scored 19 points against the Golden Eagles (9-19, 5-10 C-USA) for her fourth double-double of the season.

The Mustangs received 15 points from senior guard Jillian Samuels, 10 from sophomore guard Samantha Mahnesmith and a career-high 11 points and six rebounds from sophomore post Heidi Brandenburg.

“We just played better team basketball,” head coach Rhonda Rompola said. “We made the extra pass a couple times, we got a couple of three [pointers] off the extra pass, and I thought it was just a good team victory.”

SMU played with a short roster as posts Christine Elliot and Alice Severin recover from injuries, and at 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-2, respectively, their presence near the basket was missed.

The Mustangs had a better shooting rate (25-for-55) than Southern Miss (22-for-68), but the Golden Eagles pulled down more rebounds and scored more points in the paint.

“We knew we had to pick it up because Chris [Elliot] puts up a lot of numbers,” Day said. “And so we knew with her hurt, everybody had to step up.”

Despite the limited roster, SMU led 42-32 at halftime and never trailed in the game.

“We’re a good team at home, and I don’t want our girls to ever forget that,” Rompola said. “It may not always be pretty, but we find ways to win at home, and that’s what good teams have to do.”

The Mustangs will try for their third consecutive 20-win season when they host Tulsa University in this year’s final regular-season game on Wednesday, and Rompola hopes for a better outcome against the Golden Hurricane than the 57-54 road loss on Feb. 18.

“Our start was really poor against Tulsa,” she said. “We just didn’t play well there, we didn’t hit our shots.”

Tip-off against the Golden Hurricane (12-13, 6-8 C-USA) is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Moody Coliseum.

Samuels Sets 3-Point Mark in 69-61 Win

February 25, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Nate Regan

The women’s basketball team, playing shorthanded while senior post Alice Severin recovers from a knee injury, needed just seven players Thursday to beat the University of Central Florida at Moody Coliseum, 69-61.

SMU (18-9, 8-6 Conference USA) was led by 17 points from senior guard Jillian Samuels, who tied and broke the school record for career three-pointers during the game against the Knights (8-15, 5-9 C-USA).

With her first trifecta of the night, Samuels tied the record of 236 set by Andrea Cossey from 2000-2004, and she moved ahead with another three-pointer at the 5:29 mark in the first half.

“Everybody kept talking about it, but I was trying not to think about it,” Samuels said.

“It was a relief that she got it in the first half,” head coach Rhonda Rompola said. “It’s nice to break the record, but with something like that you want to follow it up with a victory.”

Samuels added another three-pointer in the second half (No. 238), and SMU shot 7-for-19 from behind the arc in the game while UCF was just 2-for-13.

Senior guard Brittany Gilliam and junior forward Haley Day each had 13 points for the Mustangs, and Day also grabbed 11 rebounds for her second double-double of the season.

Sophomore post Christine Elliot pulled down eight rebounds while freshman forward Sarah Shelton went a perfect 4-for-4 shooting and contributed eight points with six rebounds in her third career start.

Without the 6-foot-3-inch Severin in the lineup, SMU was out-rebounded 48-34 by UCF, and the Knights scored 34 points in the paint to the Mustangs’ 26.

“Rebounding was a huge concern,” Rompola said. “Even though [the Knights] are small, they’re very athletic. And they’re strong, very strong under the board.”

The Mustangs remain in a third-place tie with the University of Houston (14-13, 8-6 C-USA), and they can clinch a first-round bye in the conference championship tournament with a victory Saturday against Southern Miss.

Tip-off against the Golden Eagles (9-18, 5-9 C-USA) is set for 2 p.m. at Moody Coliseum.