May 9, 2012
ARLINGTON, Texas - Another year is in the books for the UT Arlington tennis programs.
The women's team completed the 2012 season with a 9-2 Southland Conference record and a 14-8 overall record. Head coach Diego Benitez coached the women to the championship round of the Southland Conference Tournament, where the Mavericks fell just shy of another title.
UTA senior Maria Martinez-Romeo competed at the top of the lineup for UTA and finished league play with an impressive 10-1 mark at the No. 1 spot in singles competition. The three seniors accumulated just six losses in conference singles play, combining for a 25-6 record.
"It was a successful season" said Martinez-Romero, the SLC Player of the Year. "We had some doubts at the beginning of the season because of the fact that we lost a couple of key players, but I feel like we made the right adjustments to overcome that insecurity and we were able to get many good wins against tough teams.
"In fact, we were in the finals for the conference tournament for the fourth consecutive year."
Verena Scott, a promising freshman, went 9-2 in SLC play and 17-7 against all competition, including 13 wins playing at the No. 2 position.
The men also reached the conference tournament, competing as the No. 3 seed. The team fell shy of the championship round, but completed conference with a 3-2 record. The team finished with a 10-12 overall record.
"Unfortunately we did not achieve our goal of winning the conference, but nevertheless I felt we had a solid year," Benitez said about the success of the men's and women's teams.
UTA had to two men go undefeated in league play in singles competition. Senior Mindaugas Celedinas and junior Yauheni Yakauleu both finished the 2012 season 5-0 against Southland Conference opponents.
"We expected better than we did. It was disappointing a little bit, especially in conference," said Celedinas, the SLC Player of the Year said. "We had the confidence and we were confident with the lineup we had. It didn't work out, though.
"It was tough. We played a lot of good competition and we had a lot of expectations with our team, but some matches went 4-3 our way and some went 4-3 for the other team."
The men defeated future Western Athletic Conference foe No. 50 New Mexico State in a close 4-3 battle to claim a win over a ranked opponent.
"I am very proud of our seniors who gave it their all out there and played a big factor in our success," Benitez said. "I'm especially proud of Maria and Mindaugas for putting up great numbers and being the leaders they were. It is a great honor to have both Players of the Year coming from our programs. Mindaugas and Maria worked hard for it and they deserve it.
"As I told our returnees, the new season starts right now and we will be ready to continue representing our colors with pride and honor. I was happy with the way we played this year."