Mavs in it to win it

Depth crucial in Mavs' quest to win RMAC tennis

Colorado Mesa University tennis player Shannen McNamara works on her game at the Elliott Tennis Center.

Kaylee Davis and Shannen McNamara played a role in helping the Colorado Mesa women’s tennis team to the NCAA Division II national tournament two years ago.

This year, the seniors hope to lead the Mavericks back to the NCAA tournament, but to do so, Mesa will have to win the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tournament this weekend at the Elliott Tennis Center at CMU.

The Mavericks (9-7, 4-0 RMAC) won the RMAC regular-season title and are the top seed. They host CSU-Pueblo in an RMAC makeup dual at 12:30 p.m. today.

“I’m super-stoked (about the RMAC tournament),” McNamara said. “I think we have a great chance to do well. I’m hoping we win it. It’s my senior year, so I want that. We definitely have good chances.”

The women were picked to take second place in the preseason poll, but upset favorite Western New Mexico two weeks ago in Silver City, N.M.

CMU coach Dan MacDonald credits No. 1 singles player Natalie Martin and the team’s depth.

“Natalie’s given us extra depth and Katie Kirby’s had a great freshman year for us, too,” MacDonald said. “We’ve got great depth on our women’s team. I think we have four great doubles teams.

“We have eight solid players on the women’s side. We don’t have an amazing No. 1 player, but we have great depth.”

The Colorado Mesa men (10-7, 3-1 RMAC) can clinch the No. 2 seed for the RMAC tournament with a victory over CSU-Pueblo (6-11, 2-2 RMAC) at 12:30 p.m. today.

“CSU-Pueblo has been a surprise team this year,” MacDonald said. “I think, on the men’s side, it’s a four-way horse race. Whoever comes out of doubles up 2-1 is the big key.”

Western New Mexico (9-8, 5-0 RMAC) is the top seed on the men’s side. Metro State (9-10, 3-2 RMAC) is currently in third, followed by CSU-Pueblo in fourth. If Pueblo beats the Mavericks, Mesa, Metro and Pueblo will be tied for second place. The top two seeds receive a first-round bye in the RMAC tournament, which has a team dual format.

“The match Thursday is huge for positioning,” MacDonald said. “If you have two duals in one day (of the tournament), it takes your legs out.”

The RMAC championships begin with the women’s first round at 8 a.m. Friday at the Elliott Tennis Center on the campus of CMU.

The women’s finals are at 9 a.m. on Saturday, the men’s championship match at noon.

“The (Mesa) men were picked No. 1, but to tell you the truth, I don’t know why,” MacDonald said. “Everyone has closed the gap on Western New Mexico. When we played them, we didn’t have Blake Demond. He’s been out the past two weeks.”

Demond has practiced this week and told MacDonald he’s 100 percent to go, but MacDonald thought he was more 75 percent. MacDonald may hold him out of the lineup against CSU-Pueblo today so he can be closer to 100 percent for the tournament.

“We have to play our toughest,” No. 1 singles player Jordan Lyden said. “We have to show what we’ve been working hard for this season.

“I think it will pay off in the RMAC tournament. They got us in Western New Mexico, but we’re ready to take them on.”

The Mavericks are ranked seventh in the region in the latest NCAA South Central Region poll, released Wednesday. Mesa will likely have to win the RMAC tournament to receive an NCAA tournament bid.

Western New Mexico is ranked fifth in the region and Metro State is sixth. Four teams qualify for the NCAA tournament.


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