It was all Crimson and Gold on day one of the Summit League Championships, as the top-seeded Pioneer women’s tennis team took care of #4 South Dakota 4-0 in the semifinals, setting up a date in Saturday morning’s finals.
Between today’s match and the one against USD a week ago at Denver Tennis Park to close out the regular season, the #47 Pios have beaten the Coyotes by a combined score of 11-0.
The #1 seeded Pioneers (15-5, 5-0) will take on Nebraska-Omaha Saturday morning at 9 am MT. A live feed (sadly just two courts) and live stats are available here.
The #3 seed Mavericks made it to their first conference finals after beating #2 North Dakota 4-2 in a back and forth match Friday afternoon.
In the doubles point, the #1 DU team of senior co-captain Bianca Mok and sophomore Camille Verden-Anderson needed just over 20 minutes to serve a bagel breakfast to opponents Emma Tranberg and Nanette Nylund 6-0.
“It was pretty good, I think we came out strong and we finished strong,” Mok said.
Associate head coach David Loewenthal was pleased with the overall C&G effort but is always looking for areas to improve, most notably in the doubles. Sophomores Tatum Burger and Hada Chang were down 5-3 in the #2 doubles match (it was ultimately abandoned when DU clinched the other two contests). The coaches think the #3 team of Arisha Ladhani and Anna Riedmiller could have been a tad stronger as well.
While they’ll continue to keep at “dubs” in practice, the coaches jokingly said they might take advantage of a famous fixture at Oral Roberts to help their cause.
“[Head coach Christian Bass] Christian and I will go back to the prayer tower here at Oral Roberts and continue to the pray to the doubles gods,” Loewenthal said.
The gods will have to work overtime, Loewenthal said they’ve set some lofty goals for doubles play out in Tulsa.
“The common theme [in doubles] what we’re aiming for is no unforced errors and forced errors, so basically no errors,” he said. “And then [the players] were like ‘so basically no errors at all?’ and we were like yeah you’re getting it!”
Overall though it was a morning for Coyote hunting. In the singles, roomates Verden-Anderson and Anna Riedmiller went first and second to put their feet up for the day, winning 6-0, 6-1 and 6-1, 6-1 respectively.
DU runs away with Summit awards; Mok conference’s best
The Pioneers men’s and women’s teams stole the show at the Summit League awards banquet.
The DU women swept the individual awards with the #101 in the country Mok taking home Player of the Year for the second year in a row. According to DenverPioneers.com only seven student-athletes in Summit history have pulled off back-to-back POY honors.
Pending that she stays in the top 125, the senior from Boise will represent the Summit and the Pios in the NCAA singles tournament (on top of the team tourney, which the team will qualify for automatically if they win the Summit tournament).
“Bianca Mok, I mean what can you say,” Loewenthal said, adding that her 125 career singles wins put her amongst the NCAA’s best.
Meanwhile, freshman Tatum Burger collected the Newcomer of the Year title, the third Pio to take home that hardware in the past four years.
“Tank” finished her regular season 14-4 in singles.
And finally, head coach Christian Bass was named Summit Coach of the Year for the fourth straight year.
Loewenthal called the total Pioneer haul at the banquet: “epic”
Six of the eight DU players were named all-league. Mok received the accolade for the fourth year in a row and was joined by Arisha Ladhani, Hada Chang, Anna Riedmiller, Verden-Anderson, and Burger.
The men’s squad claimed several awards as well, including head coach Ricardo Rubio being named Coach of the Year. The men have won the conference regular-season title five of the past six years.
“Every match is an opportunity”
The team will now rest a little and focus on bringing that sixth tournament title home to Denver tomorrow.
Former DU All-American Maureen Slattery says the team needs to keep their eyes on that prize and not focus too much yet on the NCAA tournament.
“Bringing a championship to DU is the best thing we can do for our program,” Slattery said. “You want to take advantage of any court time you get in the post-season to keep refining and improving the physical skillset and maintaining focus.”
“Every match is an opportunity.”