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BEAUMONT, Texas - Three matches. Three shutouts. Three wins. One trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Finishing off a dominant run through the WAC Tournament, the second-seeded NM State women's tennis team hammered fifth-seeded Seattle U by a 4-0 tally in the championship match Sunday at the Beaumont Municipal Tennis Center.
With the emphatic victory, the Aggies claimed the program's third WAC Tournament title (2015, 2019 and 2022) and will be the league's automatic entrant to the NCAA Division I Women's Tennis Tournament.
• The only real threat Seattle U posed came in doubles action. Things were very much in question for NM State after Chloe Gavino and Lisa Zhu suffered a 6-0 shutout loss in top-flight action against Liliya Dimova and Elena Kraleva.
• Down, but never out, the rest of the Aggies rallied and made sure the Redhawks didn't get their hands on the tandem point. Gavi Kalaga and Natsuki Nishimura evened things up down on line two, getting by Mireia Fehr and Jade Lancaster by a 6-4 tally.
• That left the task up to Miranda Bishard and Bella Nguyen in flight three action. Arguably the turning point in the match, Bishard and Nguyen gave their squad an important upper hand by battling back time and time again. Finally, in a winner-take-all seventh game, Bishard and Nguyen put NM State ahead 1-0 with a hard-fought 7-6 (7-4) triumph over Hannah Grossman and Jade Quintana.
• Following the emotional doubles point win, the Aggies seemingly clipped the Redhawks' wings for good.
• Fueled by their pivotal doubles win, Bishard and Nguyen carried over that momentum into singles action and pushed the Aggies closer to victory. Nguyen demolished Aranza Alvarez Sanabria by a 6-0, 6-1 tally to make it four-straight singles wins as well as a 2-0 NM State lead.
• Like Nguyen, Bishard had little trouble with her adversary on line six. Bishard blasted Rasmussen 6-0, 6-1 for her first WAC Tournament triumph. That win hiked the Aggies' lead to 3-0 and set the stage for Zhu to play the role of hero.
• With both of her previous matches in the WAC Tournament having gone unfinished, Zhu finished her team's flawless run through the league's postseason tournament. The Beijing, China, product surrendered just four total games during her 6-3, 6-1 victory over Dimova and got mobbed by her teammates following the match-clinching singles triumph.
Head coach Emily Wang | "I really think that it was our energy. We have been talking about that a lot throughout the season and we were really able to peak with our energy and believe in each other. We sustained that energy throughout the entire tournament so I think that's really what carried us through."
Chloe Gavino | "It has meant a lot to me. It's my senior year, so it means a lot winning the WAC Tournament. Last year we had a really tough year by only having five players. This year we had a pretty tough year, too. We had one of our players leave, so it meant a lot to us that we could end it with a win."
COMING UP NEXT
• NM State will find out exactly who it will be playing and where it will be headed for the opening round of the 2022 NCAA Women's Tennis Championship tournament on Monday, May 2, 2022 at 4:30 p.m. MT. The NCAA's selection show will stream live on NCAA.com.