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UNLV roundup: Zhu repeats as league’s top women’s tennis player

Aiwen Zhu became the third woman in UNLV history to gain more than one league MVP honor in tennis when the senior was named the Mountain West player of the year for a second straight season.

A native of Wuxi, China, Zhu is 25-7 this season, including 12-3 at No. 1 singles, where she ranks 104th nationally. For her Rebels career, Zhu is 93-31, including 39-7 at No. 1 singles.

Zhu, sophomore Izumi Asano (21-7) and junior En-Pei Huang (22-9) were named to the 16-member all-conference singles team, and Zhu and Huang (22-8) were one of eight doubles teams named all-league.

Zhu joins former Rebel All-Americans Elena Gantcheva (a league-record three consecutive honors from 2006 to 2008) and Marianne Vallin (also a three-time winner — Big West in 1994 and ’96 and Western Athletic Conference in ’97) in winning consecutive league MVP honors.

The other former conference MVP winners from UNLV are Aleksandra Josifoksa (2013), Lucia Batta (2012), Katarina Malec (2000) and Jolene Watanabe (Big West in 1990).

Zhu and Huang, who rank 74th nationally, were tabbed all-league in doubles for a third straight season. Asano, last year’s league freshman of the year, was named all-league for a second straight season.

With Zhu again making both teams, she is the third UNLV women’s tennis player to be voted all-conference in singles and doubles all four seasons, joining Kristina Nedeltcheva (2007 to 2010) and Vallin (1994 to 1997).

Zhu ranks sixth in program history with 98 singles victories and third with 87 doubles wins.

Also, the Rebels (14-6) are seeded first for the Mountain West Championship and will face eighth-seeded San Jose State (10-8) in a quarterfinal at 10 a.m. Thursday in San Diego.

The winner between UNLV and the Spartans will face the winner of the quarterfinal pitting fourth-seeded New Mexico (12-8) and fifth-seeded Wyoming (13-7) in a semifinal at 10 a.m. Friday.

The title match is set for 11 a.m. Saturday.

MEN’S TENNIS

Junior Eric Samuelsson (12-10) was one of 12 players named all-league in singles, and Samuelsson and sophomore Clayton Alenik (12-11) were one of six doubles teams named all-league.

The Rebels (13-8) are seeded fifth for the Mountain West Championship and will play fourth-seeded San Diego State (13-9) in a quarterfinal at noon Thursday in Fresno, California.

The winner between UNLV and the Aztecs will face the winner of Thursday’s quarterfinal between top-seeded New Mexico (13-7) and eighth-seeded Air Force (12-12) in a semifinal at 11 a.m. Friday.

The title match is set for 1 p.m. Saturday.

WOMEN’S GOLF

Senior Elizabeth Prior and sophomore Polly Mack were selected to compete in the NCAA regional in Cle Elum, Washington, set for May 6-8.

Each of the four regional sites includes 18 teams and six individuals. The other sites are East Lansing, Michigan; Norman, Oklahoma; and Auburn, Alabama.

From regional competition, 24 teams and 12 individuals (six teams and three individuals from each site) advance to the national championships, set for May 17-22 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

This marks the fourth straight season Prior will play at regionals and the second straight for Mack.

MEN’S GOLF

Senior Harry Hall is one of 26 players named to the Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup initial squad, earning an invitation to a May 1 practice session at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, after which the group will be reduced to 10 competitors for a second practice session in July.

The GB&I Walker Cup team will compete against the United States at Royal Liverpool on Sept. 7 and 8.

Since 1922, the Walker Cup matches have served as the yardstick for measuring international amateur competition. Named after former USGA president George Herbert Walker, the Walker Cup has included two Rebels: Chris Riley in 1995 and Ryan Moore in 2003.

BASEBALL

Senior Coronado product Jackson Cofer is one of 45 players named to the watch list for the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association’s Stopper of the Year Award, given annually to the top NCAA Division I relief pitcher.

Cofer ranks 15th nationally this season in saves with nine. The Utah Valley transfer has pitched 25 innings in 19 appearances, with a 2-2 record and a 2.52 ERA. He has totaled 24 strikeouts while allowing 26 hits and issuing five walks.

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