From the Cover Sports

Sporting Dominance

Monika Stanikova, Thell-Lenntorp twins emerge as ITA West Regional Champions 

By Rob Garcia and Brett Bovee

On Sept. 29, three intense days of action at the ITA West Regional Championship culminated with redshirt senior Monika Stanikova (Fashion Marketing) capturing the first singles title in ART U tennis program history and the third consecutive doubles championship for senior communications and media technologies majors Alma Thell-Lenntorp and Klara Thell-Lenntorp.

“Winning and fighting for every ball in every single match is every coach’s dream,” said head coach Clarisse Baca. “These amazing artists played 28 matches in only three days and their grit and perseverance made them champions.”

At the Munson & Bavougian Tennis Complex with Azusa Pacific serving as tournament host, ART U began on Thursday with six entrants in the 64-competitor singles draw and three pairs in the 32-team doubles draw.

All six Urban Knights qualified through their opening round matchups led by Stanikova’s 6-1, 6-1 win over Biola’s Allison Torres. She then surpassed Sonoma State’s Hannah Highsmith by the same score and defeated Stanislaus State’s Cassidy Ferrell 6-3, 6-1 to reach the quarterfinals. She moved past Kara Hilton of Azusa Pacific then started Saturday by putting away Concordia’s Ghazal Pakbaten 6-3, 6-1 for a faceoff with the tournament’s No. 1 seed Jensyn Warren of Sonoma State. Continuing her own dominance, Stanikova refused to allow a set to any of her opponents, capturing the singles title by way of a 6-4, 7-5 final score.

“My opponent in the final was a player who I never beat before,” said Stanikova. “But when I stepped on the court I told myself, ‘It doesn’t matter who your opponent is, everything is on you.’” She added, “I was focusing on my game and everything was working well. The match was very close and tough, but I was ready for everything and the result came. It was an amazing feeling and it still is. I cannot believe that I became a champion.”

“I can’t believe we won this tournament for the third time today. Big shout out to my sister, she did a really good job in the final even though she was injured and I had to step it up. She was killer at the net and I know she gave everything today and that’s why we leave the tournament as champions.”

— Klara Thell-Lenntorp

The Thell-Lenntorp twins took the court on Sept. 27 looking to defend their back to back doubles championships from 2016 and 2017 at the ITA West Regionals. Being the No. 1-seeded doubles team, they started with a bye before playing Kayla Nguyen and Ferrell of Stanislaus State, whom they defeated 8-1. Then, in the quarterfinals, the twins defeated Sonoma State’s Carolyn Brooner and Highsmith 8-5. The pair faced APU’s Hinton and Wagner in the semi-finals who they put away 8-6 to make it to the championship where Sonoma State’s Warren and DeTurk awaited them. The Sonoma State duo put up a fight, but ultimately the Thell-Lenntorp twins defended their title for a second straight year by way of an 8-6 victory.

“It felt amazing to win today,” said Alma. “Not only because we played two really good ladies from Sonoma, but also that this was our last time playing this tournament.”

Klara added: “I can’t believe we won this tournament for the third time today. Big shout out to my sister, she did a really good job in the final even though she was injured and I had to step it up. She was killer at the net and I know she gave everything today and that’s why we leave the tournament as champions.”

“Since the first day of official practice, we set up goals for the fall season and this checks one in our list,” said Baca. “The road is long and we have to continue to stay hungry and keep improving to achieve that desire for an NCAA Championship.”

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