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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 23, 2023) – After knocking off a ranked opponent last week in Miami, the ETSU women’s tennis team returns to Southern Conference play this weekend, starting with a match at Wofford on Friday, March 24 at 3 p.m.
Following the Terriers, ETSU will swing back through Alabama with a match at Samford on Sunday, March 26 at 1 p.m.
SCOUTING THE BUCS
The Bucs are 10-5 this season, defeating No. 72-ranked Yale last week in a neutral site match hosted by Florida International. ETSU has won eight of the last 10 matches, one of which was a conference win over UNCG at home.
ETSU has been ranked twice this season, coming in at No. 67 a few weeks ago and at No. 68 to open the month of March.
Following two singles wins and one doubles win over opponents from two ranked teams, sophomore Ralitsa Alexandrova (Sofia, Bulgaria) was named the SoCon Women’s Tennis Player of the Week on Tuesday. She and teammate Daniela Rivera (Maturin, Venezuela) anchor the bottom of the lineup with three-match win streaks.
At the top of the lineup, senior ace Laylo Bakhodirova (Tashkent, Uzbekistan) is 8-1 in her last 10 matches in the No. 1 spot with eight wins, one unfinished match and one loss to a nationally-ranked opponent. She leads the Bucs with an 11-3 record on the season. In doubles, she and Mariya Shumeika (Minsk, Belarus) are 10-3 from the top flight, while Shumeika has six wins from the No. 2 slot.
Maria Fernanda Carvajal (Queretaro, Mexico) is also a player to watch with an 8-3 record at No. 3 singles. She and Rivera are 8-4 as a No. 2 doubles pair. Emilia Alfaro (Azul, Argentina) rounds things out with a 3-4 record, coming on recently and picking up a win in her last outing against Yale.
The Bucs are led by Ricky Rojas, who won his 100th career match as a head coach two weekends ago. Rojas has a career record of 89-56 leading the women and an additional 12 wins while serving as interim coach for the men. Rojas also has a 32-6 record against SoCon foes over six seasons.
SCOUTING THE TERRIERS
Wofford has a 10-5 record with three straight wins over UNC Central, Radford and UNCG. Much like it was for ETSU, UNCG served as Wofford’s conference opener. The Terriers beat the Spartans with three singles wins and a 2-1 win in doubles.
The No. 2 singles spot is where Wofford won its match with UNCG, as Breda Brennan won a three-set match (6-3, 2-6, 7-5) to surge her team past the Spartans. She is 6-3 in her last 10 matches with one unfinished.
Emely Kahrs and Brianna Wilbur lead the team in wins with 10 apiece. Kahrs has won all of hers at No. 5 singles, while Wilbur has done most of her damage in the No. 3 slot. Meanwhile, Lily Woods will likely play the top flight on Friday with a 6-8 overall record.
Last season, Wofford went 9-10 overall and 3-4 in conference play, falling to No. 4 seed Chattanooga in the first round of the SoCon tournament with a 4-2 loss.
SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS
Samford has yet to begin conference play, owning an 8-4 overall record, including a 7-2 record at home. Like Wofford, Samford has won its last three matches — all by 4-3 scores — against College of Charleston, MTSU and UTEP.
Prior to ETSU, Samford will open conference play at Chattanooga on Friday.
Samford is led by ace Alexis Lopez in the top spot — a usual contender for SoCon Player of the Week awards alongside Bakhodirova and others. Lopez is 8-4 on the season in the top flight, including five straight wins and wins in seven of the last eight.
In doubles, top flight team Lindsay Song and Samantha Nanere has a 7-4 record this season with wins in the last three matches. Song also ranks second on the team in singles wins with seven from the No. 4 slot.
Last year, Samford swept Western Carolina in the first round of the SoCon tournament before falling to ETSU in the semifinals. The Bulldogs went 13-9 overall and 5-2 in the conference last season.
Against Wofford, ETSU has a 13-1 all-time record dating back to 1995. The only loss in that span came in 2014. Since that loss, ETSU has won 12 straight in the series by a combined score of 65-6. This includes a 5-0 record in SoCon tournament play — four quarterfinal matches and one semifinal match.
ETSU has won the last nine matches against Samford dating back to 2016 by a combined score of 50-4. Samford’s last win over ETSU came on April 26, 2015 in the SoCon championship — Samford’s first SoCon title since joining the league in 2009.
AFTER THIS WEEK
The Bucs will once again break from conference play next week with a short trip to Charlotte on Friday, March 31. ETSU’s next home match will be that Sunday, April 2 against in-state foe MTSU at 10 a.m.
For the latest information on Buccaneer women’s tennis, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the women’s tennis page.