Apr 242008
Authors: Matt L. Stephens

The seventh-seeded CSU tennis team fell 4-1 Thursday morning to second-seeded Nevada-Las Vegas in the Mountain West Conference Championship quarterfinals in Fort Worth, Texas.

Despite the tough loss, the Rams gave 54th-ranked UNLV-a Lady Rebels squad that swept CSU 7-0 earlier this season-all they could handle, including a win at the No. 2 singles spot where sophomore Laura Neal defeated Kristina Nedeltcheva 6-4, 6-2.

“(I was most impressed with) Laura Neal. She was the only winner today in the match. She won more matches in the conference at No. 2 than our other players.” CSU coach John Messick said when asked about what underclassman he was most impressed with this season. “She didn’t make all-conference, but as far as an underclassman.I was very please with how she played all year.”

Also playing excellent tennis, though coming up short, Thursday was senior captain Hilary Tyler. Tyler, a transfer from Iowa, fell to the conference player of the year, Elena Gantcheva (ranked 34th in the country), 6-3, 6-2.

“I thought (Hilary) stepped up very well into the No. 1 spot this season and represented the team at No. 1 very competitively . Today I thought Hilary played a very good match, she lost 3, 2, but it was a close match and she was out there for a while and really gave Gantcheva some problems,” Messick said.

Tyler, along side junior Lauren Strasburger, met Gantcheva again in the No. 1 doubles spot with Kristina Nedeltcheva. Despite winning four games, the Gantcheva/Nedeltcheva duo prevailed, winning the set 8-4 and the doubles point for UNLV.

Strasburger and Tyler were named to the all-MWC doubles for their play throughout the season. Tyler was also named to the all-conference singles team.

CSU finished the season with a record of 9-10, 2-6 in MWC play.

“I thought that the season could have gone better, not that that’s a criticism of our team, but I think that we had a lot of matches against ranked opponents,” Messick said. “And when you play a season like that, it’s not a disgrace to lose to some of those ranked opponents, but on the other hand if you beat one or two of them it could turn the season around.”

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