Apr 072005
Authors: Nate Ramos

The CSU tennis team will have a chance at redemption this weekend.

After losing their first Mountain West Conference matches to Brigham Young and Utah in late March, the Rams have been working on improving their 2-3 conference record. But doing so has not been easy, considering the Rams play in a conference that has four nationally ranked teams.

The Rams' first weekend match will be versus 5-11 Texas-El Paso at 1 p.m. This game is a non-conference match against a team that is on a seven-game losing streak. This year both CSU and UTEP are seemingly equal – both have defeated Wyoming and Air Force but have lost to Wisconsin and Utah.

The Rams' next match is against No. 39 UNLV on Saturday. The Rebels will be the highest-ranked team the Rams will face this weekend based on ranking. But, the Rams feel prepared.

"We have been preparing really well for the matches," Anderson said. "We have played good teams and (are) ready to continue that."

The Rams will face their third nationally ranked conference opponent in as many weeks. UNLV's Elena Gantcheva is No. 28 in the nation in singles play. Then in doubles play, Gyorgyi Zsiros and Claire Smith are No. 60. UNLV is 9-6 overall and 1-2 in conference play.

In match three, the Rams face a fourth nationally ranked MWC team, No. 40 San Diego State on Sunday. The Rams are 0-10 against SDSU, who is 10-7 overall and 1-2 in conference play.

"I really want to beat them but playing highly ranked teams like teams is fun," said No. 4 position player Alexandra Paganetti. "You have nothing to lose so you just play hard."

Coming into the weekend, three Rams are injured. Anderson and Dasha Zhurin have tennis elbow and Jessica Jones has a back injury. All three players' conditions have improved every day. Anderson's and Jones' injuries are still present, but both players are prepared to play. Zhurin's condition is day-to-day.

But the Rams will have recently named MWC West Player of the Week, sophomore Emily Kirchem, to lead the way. Kirchem was unbeaten in two singles matches last week against Air Force. She leads the Rams in singles play this season with a 13-3 record overall and a 3-2 MWC record.

All three matches this weekend will be played at Rolland Moore Park in Fort Collins.

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