Lady Flames Suffer Tough Tiebreaker Defeats in Loss at USF
The Liberty women's tennis team incurred four separate tiebreaker defeats on Tuesday afternoon at the USF Varsity Courts, leading to a 7-0 loss against South Florida.
It started with the doubles point being decided by a tiebreaker, won by the Bulls. At the tail end of the match, South Florida claimed the No. 4-6 matches, all in third-set tiebreakers, to complete a sweep of the Lady Flames.
The setback is Liberty's third straight and puts them at 5-7, while USF moves to 7-6 with the victory.
"We didn't have our best tennis today, and yet we were in position to win the match," said Liberty assistant coach Giancarlo Lemmi. "Hats off to USF and their coaches for coming ready to play. We look forward to fine-tuning our game for tomorrow's match versus a very good Tulsa team."
After trailing 4-1 in their match, the Bulls' top pairing of Juliana Cardoso and Olga Martinez won the final five games from Liberty's No. 1 duo of Evangeline Crist and Rebekah Anderson to take the match, 6-4.
The Lady Flames' No. 3 pairing of Anna Dollar and Aleksandra Panchenko trailed, 2-1, early to Nicole Dzenga and Ana Roman. Liberty's sophomore tandem took five of the final seven games of the match to emerge on top, 6-4.
The No. 2 match between Lady Flames seniors Mariely Hassey and Emily Groeneveld and the Bulls' Vera Bessonova and Brooke Lashway proved to be the difference-maker for the doubles point. Hassey and Groeneveld were on the brink of defeat, down 5-2, before rallying to even it at 5-5. The match eventually came down to a tiebreaker, won narrowly, 7-6 (7-5), by Bessonova and Lashway to put the hosts up 1-0.
South Florida's top three singles players – Roman, Cardoso and Bessonova – all won their singles matches in straight sets. Roman was the first one to close out her match, defeating Anderson (6-1, 6-2) at No. 1 singles. Cardoso prevailed, 6-2, 6-2 over Panchenko in the No. 2 match, while Bessonova topped Crist, 6-4, 6-1 on court three. Bessonova's win gave USF the fourth and winning point and a 4-0 advantage.
The No. 4-6 singles bouts all required third sets to settle. Martinez outlasted Groeneveld in a third-set tiebreaker, winning 6-2, 4-6, 1-0 (10-2) in the No. 5 position.
After losing the first set to Dollar, 6-1, Dzenga rebounded with a 6-1 set two win. Deadlocked at 6-6 in the third set, Dzenga edged Dollar in a lengthy tiebreaker, 9-7, to take the match (1-6, 6-1, 7-6 (9-7)) on court four.
Liberty endured four separate tiebreaker setbacks in Tuesday afternoon's loss at South Florida.
The final match of the day to wrap up was between Hassey and the Bulls' Vanja Klaric. Klaric lost a first-set tiebreaker but bounced back to win the second set, 6-3, and the final set in a tiebreaker, 7-6 (7-3). The 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) victory over Hassey gave South Florida its seventh point of the afternoon and snapped Hassey's eight-match winning streak.
Liberty will look to bounce back as they take on No. 28 Tulsa (13-4), Wednesday at noon at the USF Varsity Tennis Courts.