Close Matches Go to No. 28 Tulsa in 6-1 Win over Liberty
For a second straight day, Liberty women's tennis lost the doubles point in a tiebreaker and a trio of three-set matches. The end result was a 6-1 loss to No. 28 Tulsa, Wednesday afternoon at the USF Varsity Tennis Courts.
The defeat drops the Lady Flames to 5-8 on the year, while 28th-ranked Tulsa improves to 14-4.
The doubles session between Liberty and Tulsa came down to a tiebreaker in the No. 3 match between Anna Dollar and Aleksandra Panchenko and Vera Ploner and Martina Okalova. Dollar and Panchenko led 5-4 and had a match point opportunity, but the Hurricane's duo staved off defeat and eventually ended up winning a tiebreaker, 7-6 (7-4). The win put Tulsa up, 1-0 in the overall contest.
The other doubles matches were split between the Lady Flames and Hurricane. Tulsa's Rongrong Leenabanchong and Martha Matoula knocked off Liberty's senior duo of Mariely Hassey and Emily Groeneveld, 6-1, on court two. The Lady Flames evened the doubles matches at 1-1 with a 6-3 win from Rebekah Anderson and Evangeline Crist over Ksenia Laskutova and Mahitha Dadireddy.
The Lady Flames' Anderson (left) and Crist (right) won their doubles match against No. 28 Tulsa on Wednesday.
Tulsa won at No. 6 and No. 4 singles to claim a 3-0 match lead. On court six, Marcelina Cichon bested the Lady Flames' Eugenia Camacho, 6-1, 6-3, while Okalova beat Groeneveld, 6-2, 6-2, on court four.
Dollar delivered the first point of the day for Liberty, winning in straight sets over Dadireddy (6-4, 6-3) in the No. 3 match. The momentum was short-lived, as Matoula erased a one-set deficit and emerged victorious over Hassey, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2. Matoula's triumph put the Hurricane ahead, 4-1, and clinched the match.
On court one, Laskutova needed three sets to take down Anderson (7-5, 3-6, 6-2). The last match to be settled was the No. 2 bout between Crist and Leenabanchong. The two players split the first two sets and were tied, 6-6, in the third set. Leenabanchong prevailed in a lengthy tiebreaker, 11-9, to capture the match, 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 (11-9), and settle the final score at 6-1 in favor of Tulsa.
"Tulsa is No. 28 team in the nation for a reason. They are well coached and are fundamentally sound," Liberty head coach Jeff Maren stated. "However, we did a good job of maintaining our composure and competing hard against one of the better teams in the country. This will help us as we prepare for our three-match homestand next week."
The Lady Flames will be back in action, next Wednesday at 2 p.m. against No. 33 Maryland at the Cook Tennis Center. Following Wednesday's match vs. No. 33 Maryland, Liberty will host East Carolina and Presbyterian, March 24 and 26.