Vyshkina clinches win for the Bulldogs over No. 54 BYU


Manuel Hernandez/The Collegian

Mariya Vyshkina celebrates getting a point against BYU on March 15, at Spalding G. Wathen Tennis Center.

By Valentina Saldaña , Sports Editor

All eyes were on court six as both teams huddled to watch the final singles match of the day: Fresno State freshman Mariya Vyshkina versus BYU’s Kara Wheatley. Bulldog tennis players were standing on the left side of the court in intense silence, waiting for Vyshikna to score the final point. 

Once she got the point and earned the 2-1 win over Wheatley, the whole team rushed her way cheering because they had just defeated the No. 54 team in the nation. 

“I think Masha [Vyshkina] is just an amazing fighter and I think she competes so well,” said Fresno State Head Coach Denise Dy. 

Matilde Magrini sets up her serve. (Manuel Hernandez/The Collegian)

The defending Mountain West title holders have had a tough season, losing to ranked opponents by only small deficits. Dy, who was 2022 Mountain West Coach of the Year, said this win was a good step toward a better season. 

“A lot of disappointing losses, but I think this is another example of the team we are,” Dy said. 

Having to pull off the crucial win for your team against a ranked opponent may seem like a lot to handle, especially for a freshman, but Vyshikna shared with The Collegian that she felt calm. 

“I didn’t feel pressure, but I feel like I have to play more responsibly,” she said. 

Pang Jittakoat celebrates after getting a point. (Manuel Hernandez/The Collegian)

On the other side of the roster, senior Pang Jittakoat, 2022 Mountain West player of the year, also had an intense singles match against BYU’s sophomore Bobo Huang. In the first set, Jittakoat and Huang went back-and-forth, but ultimately, Jittakoat pulled off the first win, 6-3. The next set looked different as Huang came back and took the second set, 6-2. 

There were times where Jittakoat was frustrated and in her own head throughout the game. 

“I was really emotional today and [Coach] Denise was like, ‘Pang don’t get there,’ so I was like I need to breathe and not get there,” Jittakoat said.   

The guidance helped Jittakoat serve past Huang, 6-2, in the third set and take the win, 2-1. She has only lost one singles game this season and has been named the Mountain West Women’s Tennis Player for three consecutive weeks. 

“It definitely motivates me because when you get honored for the conference, I feel like I can do this. I’m actually good and believe in myself more, and it also helps the team, not just me,” Jittakoat said. 

Dy shared with The Collegian her thoughts on Jittakoat’s performance this season.

The Fresno State tennis team cheering on Vyshkina as she closes out the last game of the day. (Manuel Hernandez/The Collegian)

“There’s a lot of pressure put up on her. She’s only lost one match this year, but she does a great job responding to every adversity she comes across,” Dy said. 

In the double matches, Cougars Huang and Tina Li swept Bulldogs Meshkatolzahra and Vyshikna 6-0. Bulldogs Carlotta Nonnis Marzano and Carolina Piferi also took a loss against BYU, 6-4. Jitttakoat and Matilde Magrini’s match was unfinished at 4-5, having the Cougars take the majority of the doubles matches. 

In the singles, Fresno State took four wins out of the six matches with Jittakoat, Magrini, Vyshkina and Cristina Flaquer leading the way. That would be enough for Fresno State to take the final win 4-3 and improve its overall record to 6-6. 

The ‘Dogs will begin conference play at home on Friday, March 24, against Colorado State. Dy said she hopes to see more energy in their next game against a ranked opponent.

“They’re 43 in the country. So I hope we can carry the momentum from this match over to the next one and have another great win,” Dy said.