unlv athletics:

UNLV women’s tennis rallies for NCAA Tournament win; in second round for third time in school history

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UNLV Photo Services

UNLV junior Aleksandra Josifoska returns a shot during practice. Currently the team’s top player, Josifoska is 21-1 in Mountain West regular season matches. Her only loss came in 2011.

The UNLV women’s tennis team advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament Friday for just the third time in school history.

The No. 57 ranked Rebels (20-7) won four of six singles matches against No. 27 Tulsa in the NCAA first round, erasing an early deficit after doubles play for a 4-3 victory and spot in the second round. UNLV at noon Saturday plays tournament host Nebraska, looking to win for the 10th time in its last 11 outings.

“I felt like we should have won the doubles but you have to hand it to Tulsa because they kept fighting and found a way to get the point,” UNLV coach Kevin Cory said in a statement. “We were a little down after that but I told the girls that we’ve been in this position before and we just need to find four points. Nives (Pavlovic) then went out played one of the best matches of her career, which got us even and helped set the tone.”

The match against Tulsa lasted nearly four-and-a-half hours — an eternity for college tennis — with the Rebels’ Aleksandra Josifoska winning her 13th straight match with a 7-6 (8-6), 4-6, 6-4 win against Tulsa’s Samantha Vickers to clinch the UNLV win.

Lucia Batta keyed the comeback for UNLV, winning the final two sets against Tulsa’s Isaura Enrique for a hard-fought 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 win for her 25th straight victory to even the match at 3.

Batta and Josifoska have been unstoppable down the stretch this season, delivering again for one of the most significant wins in program history. UNLV has played in six of the past seven NCAA Tournaments, but hadn’t been able to make it out of the first round. This year, they also won the Mountain West tournament.

“Once we got it to 3-2 and it was up to our top two players, I felt very good about our chances,” Cory said. “Lucia came back to do what she seemingly always does and then, just like at the Mountain West Championships, our conference player of the year clinched it for us. That Aleks did it against an opponent that has been nearly unbeatable all season made it an even greater ending.”

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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