July 6, 2010
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
Heading into the spring of 2010, Northridge Tennis Coach Gary Victor was unsure what to expect. While his Matadors had strung together some impressive performances in the fall, he was not quite sure what would comprise his line-up once he got to match play.
What Victor would learn was not only were his trio of junior captains capable of leading the squad, but the arrival of two late additions would spur the Matadors to another successful campaign. After finishing 12-8 overall and 4-4 in the Big West, CSUN let its youth serve notice of what to expect from Matador Tennis in the future.
At the front of Victor's team were his three junior captains: Brooke Doane, Nina Jaworowski and Whitney Paluch. A seasoned group of players with All-Big West awards to their credit, the three not only easily handled the transfer of power, but did so with distinguished play.
In doubles, Doane finished 12-6 with Anna Yang at the No. 1 draw to earn All-Big West Doubles First Team honors. She and Jaworowski then earned All-Big West Singles Second Team honors for their play at the top two draws. Finally, Jaworowski and Paluch were awarded an All-Big West Honorable Mention for their play at No. 2 doubles and a 13-6 overall record.
"When they were freshmen, I said to Assistant Coach James Ciuffo that this may be our most solid recruiting class because of the high character of these three young ladies," Victor said." After three years, that has really come to be true. They are all from great families that have taught them right from wrong and to look out and care for others. They have proven to be great teammates and captains."
Behind the captains, Victor displayed a group of freshman and sophomores who excelled in the challenges they were presented. Sophomore Nigora Sirojiddinova turned in a 16-3 singles season, the fourth-best single-season winning percentage in school history. Freshmen Anna Yang, Maria Pistalu, Zarina Pisnoy and Ryma Korab then combined to post 26-13 singles record and a 25-11 mark in doubles play.
"All of them have shown moments of brilliance and have all looked like they could be where our juniors are today in the future," Victor added. "Again, they are all good people. That is one of things that's been nice about this team. They all bought into the concept of team, which in tennis, isn't always the case."
Doane and Yang's doubles title at the SDSU Fall Classic highlighted the 2009 fall season. The duo picked up wins against San Diego, San Diego State and Arizona. Jaworowski also faired well at the event, defeating USD's Laura Claus in her only action of the competition. She and Paluch then teamed up to win the Doubles "B" Flight at both the Fullerton Invitational and at the Matador Invitational.
That momentum carried over to the early stages of the spring season. The Matadors opened the year with three-straight 7-0 victories, sweeping Cal State Bakersfield in Bakersfield, taking a home contest against Cal State Stanislaus and recording their first conference win with a thrashing of Cal State Fullerton in Orange County.
Following the match with the Titans, Northridge hit a bump in the season, losing two of its next three matches. Sandwiched around a 7-0 sweep over Cal State Los Angeles, the Matadors suffered tough Big West losses to Cal Poly and eventual league champion UC Irvine.
In the match against the Anteaters, Doane recorded a three-set victory over Stephanie Hammel, her first singles win over a ranked opponent. That victory, at the No. 1 draw, helped Doane win Big West Player of the Week honors on Mar. 9.
With a break in conference play, the Matadors turned their attention to a slate of tough non-conference opponents. CSUN started the stretch by taking a 6-1 victory over Hawai'i. Northridge then headed to San Diego to face USD and Washington State, a pair of nationally ranked squads. Although the Matadors fell to the Toreros, 5-2, they rallied to topple then-No. 60 Washington State, 4-3. CSUN then returned home to split matches with Wyoming and Dartmouth.
"Beating Washington State was a great accomplishment," Victor added. "Anytime you can beat a nationally ranked Pac 10 opponent, it's awesome. It was just a great match to be at. The size difference between the players was substantial and was something to be seen."
Unfortunately, the Matadors could not pull out the win in their return to Big West action, falling to UC Santa Barbara, 6-1. However, Northridge rebounded with a 7-0 sweep over UC Riverside, highlighted by Zarina Pisnoy's first league singles win, to improve their Big West record to 2-3 at the time.
After falling 5-2 to Arizona in a non-conference meeting, Northridge pinned its hopes on a roadtrip to Northern California. On the trip, it would face San Francisco and, more importantly, meet up with both UC Davis and Pacific in important league matches.
The match with the Dons was eventually rained out, putting even more pressure on the contests with the Aggies and Tigers. In what would serve as the turning point for the season, the Matadors rolled to a 6-1 victory at UC Davis and then posted a tight 4-3 win over Pacific to improve to 4-3 in the league.
"Those wins showed a lot of character and toughness in our team." Victor said. "We had hit a rough spot and were not playing well at all. Yet we went up there with a very clear goal in mind: to get two Big West wins."
Once back from the trip, CSUN wrapped up its league schedule with a 6-1 loss to Long Beach State. The Matadors then closed out the season with a 4-0 win over Portland and a 7-0 sweep over UC San Diego.
In the Big West Championships, the fifth-seeded Matadors fell to No. 4 Cal Poly 4-1 with Sirojiddnova winning the only point for the Matadors. Sirojiddnova's 16th singles win landed her in fourth place in the CSUN tennis record books for a singles winning percentage.
At the conclusion of the season, four Matadors were recognized with Big West Conference honors. Doane and Jaworowski received All-Conference Second Team honors for their singles play and in doubles, the Doane and Yang duo snatched a well-deserved first team honor while Jaworowski and Paluch received honorable mention.
With the 2010 fall season already on the horizon, the Matadors are in a good position. The team returns everyone except Paluch, who graduated early, and are poised to make an even greater impact on the Big West in the spring of 2011.
"We'll have two good young players coming in to join the team in 2011," Victor concluded. "Both have tremendous ability and come from distinguished backgrounds and amateur careers. Overall, I think we are only going to be better as everyone matures and develops."
Written by Media Relations Intern Jaclyn Rymer