No. 49 Crimson Edges Tennis in Final Singles Set
Harvard Outlasts North Texas 4-3 in Marathon Match
BOSTON, Mass. — There are some things an athlete can control when she gets between the lines, such as preparation, effort and focus. The North Texas women's tennis team has been successful in bringing those qualities to the court every day, but for the third time this season the Mean Green was just edged by its opponent. This time it was by No. 49 Harvard, who emerged from a matchup against No. 70 North Texas with a 4-3 victory Sunday at the Beren Tennis Center to improve to 4-1 on the season.
With the team score tied 3-3, it came down to the No. 3 singles match between Anastasiya Shestakova and Annika Ringblom for all the marbles. Shestakova was one game from closing out the match in two sets, but instead lost the second set in a tiebreak, then fell in a hard-fought third set; the final score was 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-4 in the longest face-off of the day.
"That was an unbelievable match. We gave everything we had and put ourselves in a position to pull off the upset," head coach Sujay Lama said. "You have to give [Ringblom] a lot of credit for coming up with the big shots at the end."
For the third time this season, the Mean Green won the doubles point. The senior pair of Kseniya Bardabush and Franziska Sprinkmeyer won its second consecutive match, as they defeated the Crimson pair of Ellen Jang-Milsten and Nikki Kallenberg by a score of 6-2. The other North Texas duo of Ana Sofia Cordero and Agustina Valenzuela beat Harvard’s Amanda Lin and Sylvia Li by a score of 6-4, to go up 1-0 in the overall score.
Cordero completed an undefeated day, making quick work of Li with a 6-0, 6-2 win, but that is when Harvard made its charge. Kallenberg and Monica Lin defeated Bardabush and Kamilla Galieva, respectively, in two sets, then Valenzuela lost a gritty three-set match to Jang-Milsten. Then, with her back against the wall, Alexis Thoma beat Amy He at the No. 5 singles position by a score of 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 (2) to tie the overall score at 3-3.
But with Shestakova's tough loss, the Mean Green fell to the Crimson and the team is now 0-4 against ranked opponents, as well as 0-4 away from Waranch Tennis Complex. Lama has mentioned repeatedly that he deliberately scheduled difficult matches early in the season to challenge his team. Even though North Texas is 2-6 so far, the players will learn from this loss and move forward.
"Overall, we played well both days," Lama explained. "It's disappointing not to get the win today, but we are improving with each match and we will continue to stay the course. The breaks will start going our way sooner rather than later."
1. Bardabush/Sprinkmeyer defeat Jang-Milsten/Kallenberg, 6-2
2. Shestakova/Thoma vs. M. Lin/Ringblom goes unfinished, 3-4
3. Cordero/Valenzuela defeat A. Lin/Li, 6-4
1. Bardabush loses to Kallenberg, 6-1, 6-4
2. Galieva loses to M. Lin, 6-2, 6-3
3. Shestakova loses to Ringblom, 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-4
4. Valenzuela loses to Jang-Milsten, 7-5, 2-6, 6-2
5. Thoma defeats He, 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 (2)
6. Cordero defeats Li, 6-0, 6-2