Aztec women’s tennis, with new additions, return to winning ways

The Aztecs see victory during their season-opening matches at the USD Intercollegiate Invitational and the SDSU Fall Classic I


Morgan Prickett

SDSU senior Cécile Morin bounces the tennis ball as she prepares to serve during the SDSU Fall Classic I on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022.

by Morgan Prickett, Sports Editor

The Aztecs, who won the Mountain West Conference Championship last season, returned to their winning ways with victories at the USD Intercollegiate Invitational and the SDSU Fall Classic I.

Last season the Aztecs defeated UNLV 4-1 to secure their first Mountain West Conference Championship since 2003.

Following a five-month break, the Aztecs opened their 2022-2023 campaign with the two events at SDSU’s Aztec Center and USD’s Hogan Tennis Center from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2

Senior Julia Jordan won her singles flight final at SDSU’s event, while newcomers junior Andjela Skrobonja and senior Dariya Detkovskaya shut their opponents out to win their doubles final at USD.

Eight Aztecs were divided in half to attend each event. Senior Alicia Melosch accompanied newcomers Skrobonja, Detkovskaya and junior Andreea Velcea as they saw their first action in the Scarlet and Black at the USD event. Jordan, junior Alexandria Von Tersch Pohrer and senior Cécile Morin were alongside incoming sophomore Rania Azziz at SDSU’s event as she also earned her Aztec debut.

Cécile Morin throws the ball in the air
SDSU senior Cécile Morin throws the ball in the air as she prepares to serve during the SDSU Fall Classic I on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022. (Morgan Prickett)

“This year we’re very lucky because we got four new people and they are extraordinary,” Jordan said. “Inside and outside the court I enjoy being with each one of them.”

Head coach Peter Mattera said the four new people have been nothing short of fantastic.

“They’re easy to work with and they’re very happy to be here,” Mattera said. “They’re great and we seem to be forming a nice unit even at this early juncture.”

SDSU’s new additions come from a variety of schools around the country. Velcea and Skrobonja transferred in from Florida International University, Detkovskaya from Oklahoma State and Azziz from Louisiana State University.

En route to their doubles victory, Skrobonja and Detkovskaya began their journey on Friday with a first-round and quarter-final victory. The other Aztecs fell in the first round of their doubles matchups.

On Saturday, the duo of Skrobonja and Detkovskay defeated sophomore Marisa Schmidt and fifth-year Samantha Mannix of Iowa, 6-3 to earn their place in Sunday’s final. They capped off their outstanding first weekend as Aztecs with an incredible 6-0 victory over another Iowa team, junior Vipasha Mehra, and freshman Daianne Hayashida. 

“We were hoping they were gonna win but didn’t ever think it was gonna be 6-love and that was against a very strong field,” Mattera said. “It looks like they have the capability perhaps to be a very good doubles team for us.” 

Jordan, who was the only Aztec to go the full distance during singles over the weekend, saw the win as a typical performance from her new teammates.

“I trusted them 100%,” Jordan said. “I love both of them, they’re amazing tennis players and great people. I’m not surprised honestly, I’m just really happy the program finally has amazing players that are so committed to the team and the sport.”

Jordan’s victory came as a bit more of a surprise as last week while lightly practicing at the Aztec Tennis Courts, she was unable to serve as a precaution to avoid worsening an injury. A week later the injury showed no signs of phasing her as she ran through the singles competition.

“I honestly don’t feel my arm right now so I was about to not be able to serve again,” Jordan said. “After a really long weekend I just had to get through it, really push the gas, and focus on placement instead of power.”

Jordan won her first match on Friday in straight sets before automatically going to the semifinals after her next opponent withdrew during the second set due to injury.

On Saturday, Jordan put on a commanding 6-1, 6-0 performance against Camila Garcia of Cal State Fullerton, taking Jordan to the finals singles play to be played on Sunday. 

Jordan continued her near-perfect play into the finals when she only dropped three games during her 6-2, 6-1 victory over senior Victoria Santibanez Luna of Cal State Northridge. 

For the Aztecs, the two victories were a perfect way to start their new season.

Mattera, who is SDSU’s longest-serving athletic department employee and head coach of the women’s tennis program since 1993, is most looking forward to giving his players a season they will remember for the rest of their lives.

“Goal wise, we would certainly like to repeat (as Mountain West Champions), but along the way I would like these nine (players) to have a year that they’ll never forget,” Mattera said. “And so far it’s off to a good start.”

Next, the Aztecs will take part in the ITA Southwest Regional Championships, which will be held at the Aztec Tennis Center and the Barnes Tennis Center from Oct. 20-24.