Brigham Young University and San Diego State will play today for the women's Western Athletic Conference tennis title. For the first time in six years the University of Utah won't figure in the title picture.
The Utes' upset intentions were stopped one-set short on Friday. So, the Cougars will be going for their eighth straight title.BYU's win over the University of New Mexico was much easier than the 5-4 score would indicate, and Utah's loss to San Diego was much tougher than the 5-4 score would indicate.
The No. 1-seeded Cougars came out of singles
leading 5-1 and forfeited the three remaining doubles. Utah, seeded No. 3, fought back time and again against No. 2 San Diego to come out of singles 3-3, only to lose on its main strength - doubles.
BYU's win was no surprise. The Cougars had played the Lobos on Wednesday in their last dual match of the season and won five of six singles.
This go-round, said BYU coach Ann Valentine, "was much closer." In this one there were three three-set matches, including the Lobos' only win at No. 2 singles.
Utah and San Diego, in contrast, came onto the courts at even-odds. Each held advantages in different areas.
It started out with the Aztecs dominating singles, jumping out to a 3-1 lead and first-set wins in the two remaining singles.
Utah's Susie Costa and Julie Kempin, however, rebounded to win and tie the score. The third singles win went to teammate Ruth Ann Stevens.
While the final two singles were going on, No. 1 doubles moved onto a nearby court. Here Utah's Alison Bradford and Stevens, currently ranked No. 12 nationally, met Nicole Storto and Dorey Brandt, the No. 13 natinoally ranked team.
The Utes lost the opening set, were down in the second but rallied to win, and were down love-3 in the third but bounced back to win, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Bradford said it was simply a matter that the Aztec team played three good games, "then we got going, closed off the net, and came back. We just stated slowly."
The Utes led 4-3 at this point and had reasons to be optimistic. Utah's main strength all season has been its doubles play.
But, San Diego tied the match by winning No. 2 doubles in straight sets - Paige Hammond and Eva Olivarez over Costa and Sharla Barone, 6-1, 7-5 - and then clinched it with a third-set win at No. 3 - Susan Hawke and Shawn Egan over Kempin and Lisa Paal, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
The Utes will now play the Lobos at 9 a.m. today for third-place honors, while the Cougars take on the Aztecs at 11 a.m. for the championship.
Site of the matches will be determined early this morning. If the weather is good, matches will be outdoors at the Canyon Racquet Club. But, if the weather is bad, then matches will again be played in the Eccles Tennis Center on the Utah campus.