It's kind of a lighter Tennis weekend to start February, as the Women only take on a single opponent before picking back up mid-month. The men, on the other hand, draw another pair, including their toughest of the season.
Women - vs Duquesne
Barring something truly unforeseen, the ladies will finally get a full match; three doubles sets and six singles matches against an opponent. While they've rolled through four opponents so far, they've only actually contested four singles matches in each and five doubles contests total.
Last season, the Dukes topped UB 4-3, taking the doubles point easily and really outperforming the Bulls in singles despite the 3-3 final split. Margarita Kotok was the only Bull to get a straight-set win, while Laura Holterbosch won a narrow 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 match. Tanja Stojanovska did force a third set, and Laura Fernandez ceded a team point when she resigned in the second set, but in general the Dukes' points came easier.
This spring Duquesne is undefeated, with wins over Cleveland State, Youngstown State, and Toledo, and have lost only their #2 singles and half their #2 doubles pairing from last year's match, while adding in freshman Julianne Herman a newcomer who is 10-3 at #2 singles herself and two-time reigning A-10 Newcomer of the Week. A win from the Bulls would be a clear sign of improvement over last year.
What we're watching:
With finally a chance to run a whole lineup, what will Coach Maines do with #5 and #6 singles? Assume Stojanovska, Chantal Martinez-Blanco, and Kotok will be #1-3. I'll also strongly figure Dayana Agasieva has #4, though if she makes only an appearance in doubles with Kotok, that wouldn't be a surprise.
Sanjana Sudhir has certainly made a strong case for a regular spot, but what do you do with Haraldson, Holterbosch, and Losada Rubio for one spot (or two if Agasieva is only in doubles)? Holterbosch and Losada Rubio have combined for a doubles pairing that could get them both action and open room for Haraldson, but the latter hasn't seen any court time this spring after an 8-2 fall.
#3 Holterbosch/Losada Rubio
#1 Tanja Stojanovska
#2 Chantal Martinez-Blanco
#3 Margarita Kotok
#4 Dayana Agasieva OR Laura Holterbosch
#5 Laura Holterbosch OR Sanjana Sudhir
#6 Sanjana Sudhir OR Mercedes Losada Rubio
Men - at NJIT, at Princeton
It's a pretty standard early-season weekend for the men, who get a formidable Ivy League opponent and another less-formidable regional foe.
There's not a lot that needs to be said about the Tigers: They are the best team UB will face this year, barring another top-fifteen foe in the NCAA Tournament. Ranked roughly 20 spots ahead of previous opponents Dartmouth and Cornell, the Tigers are no joke.
That said, unlike UB's other Ivy League matchups, the Bulls actually put a scare into #23 Princeton last season, only falling 4-3 as Sebastian Ionescu and Damien David dropped third sets. Considering UB's three-point improvement against Brown, two against Cornell, and one against Yale and Dartmouth this year, maybe there's something there. Or maybe the Princeton match came last year before the nagging injuries set in.
NJIT will be a less-tough test, but UB did win 4-3 in the programs' last matchup in 2014. Current Bulls Pablo Alvarez, Sergio Arevalillo, and Akhil Mehta combined to go 2-1 in singles for UB that day.
The Highlanders are a younger team than the Bulls, with three seniors and no juniors, but lose only Carl Jedlinski from last year's group. They only opened their season last week with their own invitational, but piled up a 22-4 aggregate record.
What we're watching:
Markus Schultz. The senior will be a tough test for (likely) Amar Hromic, having defeated the Bull in 6-3, 6-3 straight sets at last fall's ITA Regionals and carrying a #12 regional ranking into the spring season. He's one of only two non-Ivy League names in the 20-deep rankings. He pairs with Arnaud Holl at #1 doubles. If UB can get the doubles point or get a win from Hromic at #1 singles against Schultz, that will go a long way to taking the match.
#6 Culicovschi OR Hajdu-Andersson