Tennis — Northwestern State faces tough road weekend as season’s halfway point nears

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Viktorie Wojcikova and the Lady Demons head to ULM on Friday and Houston on Monday. CREDIT: Gary Hardamon/NSU Photographic Services

After three straight home weekends, it’s time for a road trip.

Northwestern State (5-3) heads to UL Monroe (2-4) on Friday before taking off for Houston (3-4) on Monday.

Motel 6

The Lady Demons won four of their five matches in the recent homestand, topping Loyola-New Orleans, Texas State, Stephen F. Austin and UTSA before falling in the finale to an undefeated Southern Miss squad.

“We’re close to the midway point of the season, and it is a good time to go back on the road,” said NSU coach Jonas Brobeck, whose team is eight games into a 19-match regular season. “We’ve had some quality wins over good teams, and we’ll be ready for the challenge this week.

“ULM is a very tough team, and we had a super tough loss against them last year. Houston is a good team as well, and these matches make us better and set us up for Southland Conference play.”

Against ULM this past season, NSU lost three singles matches that went three sets and involved a set score of either 7-5 or 7-6. The Warhawks won the overall match 5-2, its fourth straight win dating back to NSU’s last win in the series in 2009.

Viktorie Wojcikova and Dorota Szczgielska are current Lady Demons who were involved in those three-set losses to ULM.

NSU defeated Houston in its last meeting in 2020, 4-3. It’s been a competitive series with Houston winning three of five meetings since 2009.

Current Lady Demons who scored a point in the Houston win include Mariella Minetti and Patrycja Polanska.

Minetti has been a consistent force this season in the middle of the singles lineup, recording a 5-1 record in the No. 3 position.

She received honorable mention for the league’s player of the week honor after topping UTSA’s Bobrovnikova and Southern Miss’ Burton, both 6-2, 6-1.

In Friday’s 6-1 win against UTSA, freshman Rozalie Dohnalova picked up her first singles win against a Division I opponent with a 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 decision over Zlatarova.

“We’re all very excited about her performance against UTSA because Zlatarova is a good player, and Dohnalova is finding herself more and more and playing more on her terms,” Brobeck said. “She’s starting to play up to the level she’s capable of.

“There might be a little more nerves playing in the No. 1 slot, but when you’re playing at our competitive Division I level, there’s really not much of a talent difference between spots one and four.”

Dohnalova is the third freshman in four seasons to play extensive time in the top spot, joining Minetti (2020) and Maria Skyba (2019).

With just four nonconference matches before the six-match SLC slate begins, this week’s Friday-Monday schedule will more closely mirror the reduced league schedule, allowing for more days between matches.

Just one week of the five-week league schedule features a Friday-Sunday setup.

“It’s good to experience the extra time between matches now,” Brobeck said. “And I like the extra time between matches because you get in an extra day of preparation and rest.

“We’re playing well in some spots, and we have to clean up some things in others. But it’s in our hands, and it’s up to us, so we’re going forward and continuing to get better. We’re focusing on finishing off sets in singles and to keep competing when we’re not playing our best. Getting that doubles point is really in a match in that sets the tone, and we think we’re in a good spot there as we continue to improve.”