Pepperdine Opens Spring Campaign in Las Vegas

Team (Photo by Bill Kallenberg)
Jan. 10, 2018


MALIBU, Calif. – The No. 6 Pepperdine women’s tennis team opens the spring campaign with the Freeman Memorial, hosted by UNLV in Las Vegas, Nev.

FREEMAN MEMORIAL: Friday-Sunday, January 12-14 at Fertitta Tennis Complex in Las Vegas, Nev. | Hosted by UNLV.

COVERAGE: Updates will be provided after each full day of competition. Recaps and results will be posted on daily.  Any and all available score updates will be posted on Twitter at @WavesTennis. 

LOOKING AHEAD: After this weekend, the Waves will hit the skies and head to Hawai’i for the Hawai’i Invitational from Jan. 17-18 and a dual match with the Rainbow Wahine on Jan. 20.

SCHEDULE OF PLAY: Friday and Saturday start at 10 a.m. with one round of doubles and two rounds of singles to follow.  Sunday begins at 10 a.m. with the doubles semifinal and the final to follow.  The singles final will take place after the doubles final on Sunday.  There will also be consolation rounds.

THE WAVES: This season, the Waves have two seniors with No. 31 Mayar Sherif and No. 57 Laura Gulbe.  Three juniors have returned or joined the squad as No. 44 Dzina Milovanovic and Luisa Stefani returned.  Jessica Failla also joined the squad as a junior transfer from USC at the beginning of the fall.  Stefani has ranked as high as No. 2 in the Oracle/ITA singles rankings.  No. 28 Ashley Lahey also returns to the Waves’ lineup and has ranked as high as No. 3 throughout the fall season.  Adrijana Lekaj will hit the court as a sophomore for the Waves this season as well.  The last addition this spring is Evgeniya Levashova who joins the squad with a career-high juniors ITF ranking of No. 12.

THE FIELD: No. 1 Stanford, No. 3 Florida, No. 5 North Carolina, No. 6 Pepperdine, No. 12 Texas, No. 16 Oklahoma State, No. 17 UCLA and tournament-host UNLV will all be competing.  Last season, the Waves top-doubles pair, then-ranked No. 3 Mayar Sherif and Christine Maddox reached the doubles final, but fell to No. 2-ranked UNC duo Jessie Aney and Hayley Carter in a hard-fought battle.

ORACLE/ITA RANKINGS: The first round of Oracle/ITA national team rankings was released on Jan. 3.  The Waves moved up two spots to open the 2018 campaign ranked No. 6 nationally.  After the completion of the fall season, the final singles and doubles rankings were released on Nov. 15.  Four Waves were ranked in singles, as No. 28 Ashley Lahey, No. 31 Mayar Sherif, No. 44 Dzina Milovanovic and No. 57 Laura Gulbe each finished the fall nationally ranked. 

ITA SOUTHWEST REGIONAL: For the third-consecutive season, the Waves have won the ITA Southwest Regional singles draw.  Ashley Lahey won the tournament for the second straight year, and this season she faced fellow Wave Mayar Sherif in the final match-up to earn them both a bid to the Oracle ITA Fall National Championship.  Lahey won the tournament with wins against Alaina Miller (UCLA), Sydney Van Alphen (USC), Elisabeta Volodko (UCSB), Eva Voracek (LMU), Avan Broomfield (UCLA) and Mayar Sherif (Pepperdine).  Sherif reached the final after collecting victories over Calota Casasampere (LBSU), Becca Weissmann (USC), Lena Pacholski (LBSU), No. 73 Jada Hart (UCLA) and Veronika Miroshnichenko (LMU).

OTHER FALL TOURNAMENTS: In addition to the regional, the Waves competed in five other fall tournaments, including the Oracle/ITA Masters and the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships.  In the Oracle/ITA Masters, Mayar Sherif reached the semifinal round against Alle Sanford, the 6th-ranked newcomer from UNC, before falling in a three-set bout.  At the fall championships, Ashley Lahey made her sophomore season debut and reached the quarterfinal round.

A GLANCE AT 2016-17: In the 2016-17 season, the Waves posted a 24-5 overall record and marked a second-consecutive appearance in the NCAA National Championship quarterfinals.  Pepperdine also marked the fifth-consecutive WCC Tournament Championship title as well as the sixth-straight regular season crown.  As a team, Pepperdine produced a .689 overall singles winning percentage with a 146-66 overall record.  The team also posted a .686 winning percentage in doubles with a 72-33 overall record.

NILSSON: Per Nilsson returned to Pepperdine in June 2014 to succeed Gualberto Escudero as head coach of the women’s tennis team.  In his three years with the Waves, he has been named West Coast Conference Coach of the Year on three-consecutive occasions.  In 2016 and 2017, he led the Waves to a NCAA Championship quarterfinal appearances and #9 and #8 final ranking in the ITA/Oracle rankings respectively.  He was an assistant coach for the Pepperdine men’s tennis team from 2003-07 under head coach Adam Steinberg, where the Waves went 119-38 in those five seasons.  Pepperdine won the NCAA team championship in 2006 with Nilsson on the sidelines.  He was the head men’s coach at Mississippi State, his alma mater, for seven seasons from 2008-2014.  Nilsson compiled a record of 95-76 during his time at MSU.

#PURPOSE: The Pepperdine University Department of Athletics is committed to Christian values, to the academic well-being of all of our student-athletes and to competing for championships.  We prepare students for success by challenging them to think differently - find your purpose, serve others and lead by example.  The Competing with Purpose campaign highlights the commitment to our core values that student-athletes, coaches and staff dedicate themselves to daily.  Competing with Purpose provides the foundation on which champions are built.

ABOUT PEPPERDINE: Pepperdine boasts a one-of-a-kind athletic department with unprecedented success for a school of its size. The Waves have won NCAA Division I Championships in five different men’s sports — one of just 17 schools to have accomplished this feat — and nine overall. Of this elite group, Pepperdine has the smallest undergraduate enrollment, is the only school without football and is the only university that has not been affiliated with a “major” conference. The Waves have won a total of 25 team or individual national championships in their history. Pepperdine has also earned the Division I-AAA All-Sports Trophy, an award based on postseason success that’s given to the top non-football school, three times (most recently in 2011-12). Located in scenic Malibu, Calif., the university overlooks the Pacific Ocean and its campus and athletic facilities are regularly voted among the nation’s most beautiful.  Pepperdine, which is affiliated with the Church of Christ, ranks No. 46 overall on U.S. News and World Report’s list of America’s best colleges.



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