Mesa men, women qualify for NCAAs

Mesa State’s Mandie Divino likes the fact the Mavericks will be at home this weekend. The Mavs play the winner of Nebraska-Kearney and Metro State at 11 a.m. on Saturday at the Elliott Tennis Center.

Qualifying for the NCAA Division II tournament isn’t necessarily a new thing for the Mesa State College men’s and women’s tennis teams.

It is however, a new experience for each of the men’s and women’s players on the team this season.

The Mesa State men (12-9) qualified for the second time in school history (the first time came in 2006), but this is uncharted waters for these six players.

“It’s exciting we made it this far,” Mesa junior Nick Provenza said. “It’s a good accomplishment, but our goal is to make the national tournament. We’re here now. We’re going out to win it.”

The Mavericks play RMAC foe CSU-Pueblo (12-11) at 2 p.m. today at Metro State in Denver in one of the Central Region brackets. The winner plays RMAC champion and No. 1 seed Metro State (16-4) at 1 p.m. Friday. CSU-Pueblo and Metro State defeated the Mavericks in their most recent meetings.

“Both of our duals with them were close,” Mesa State coach Dan MacDonald said. “There were a lot of close matches. To me, it comes down to winning at least two of the three doubles matches. That makes it a lot easier.

“We need to play our best to win the duals. Everyone needs to be on the same page.”

The Mesa women (17-4) qualified for the NCAA tournament for the fourth time, but the first time in two years. Although the Mavs have one senior in Renee Demianeu, none of them were on the 2007 team that made the NCAA tournament.

This women’s team, though, has done something none of the other three qualifying teams has done — host the preliminary regional round.

“Being at home is extremely exciting,” Mesa freshman Mandie Divino said.

Nebraska-Kearney (14-7) plays Metro State (13-13) in the first round at 11 a.m. Friday at the Elliott Tennis Center. The Mavericks play the winner at 11 a.m. on Saturday at the Elliott Tennis Center.

“Our courts are the fastest in the RMAC,” MacDonald said. “I think that benefits our style. It gives us the home court advantage.”

If Mesa State wins, it advances to the NCAA national championships next week in Altamonte Springs, Fla., but it won’t be easy.

Metro State upset Mesa in the RMAC tournament last week.

“There are four teams in the conference that are pretty equal,” MacDonald said. “We beat Metro 6-3 two weeks before the RMAC tournament. We never lost to them since I’ve been coach until last week. We have the ability to sweep the doubles against Metro, but I don’t think so against Kearney. I can see (Montana State) Billings winning the other region.”

MacDonald believes the Mavericks can make the national finals for the first time if they can win one of the top two singles matches.

“We have good depth,” MacDonald said. “If we get a point at one or two singles, we are hard to beat.

“The competition is way harder at one and two singles. Last week, we lost at one and two singles and one doubles and only lost 5-4 to Metro. Kate (Lowder) and Victoria (Sargent) win 80 percent of their matches at one doubles. I think if we win one of the top three singles matches, we can win out.”


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