Bardabush Clinches Win Over Cardinals in Final Match
Mean Green Downs No. 74 Louisville in Close Decision
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It seems as though the North Texas tennis team was due for a break. After four close losses early in the season and a 2-7 overall record, the Mean Green made its own luck in a 4-3 victory at No. 74 Louisville on Sunday afternoon to improve to 3-7. Kseniya Bardabush clinched the deciding point for the visitors at the No. 1 singles position after the team match was tied 3-3 and the result against Elle Stokes hung in the balance.
"As I started playing my third set, I knew we were tied as a team and my match might be the deciding one," she said of her 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 win. "I knew I had to take a lead from the beginning and not let my opponent get any confidence. She tried to change tactics, but I stayed mentally strong and patient, and won the third set."
The Mean Green was behind the 8-ball early, as the Cardinals won the doubles point. Anastasiya Shestakova and Alexis Thoma got North Texas' lone doubles win with an 8-7 (6) result, but the No. 1 doubles pair of Bardabush and Franziska Sprinkmeyer fell in a 8-7 (4) tiebreaker to Ariana Rodriguez and Stokes. This came after Ana Sofia Cordero and Agustina Valenzuela's three-match win streak came to an end with an 8-5 loss to Louisville duo Jessie Lynn Paul and Manuela Velasquez.
Down 1-0, North Texas needed to hand Louisville four singles losses in six matches to pull out the victory. That is difficult enough, but it was even more unfathomable considering the Cardinals were a combined 51-20 in singles matches coming into the day. But that all changed on February 22, as the Mean Green completed the comeback and picked up its third win of the season in stunning fashion.
"This is a huge win for us. It stops the bleeding and we get to regroup and regain our confidence after so many close losses," head coach Sujay Lama explained. "The ladies have worked hard and kept their heads up, and it's great to see them being rewarded for their persistence."
Shestakova started things off with a quick, 6-1, 6-2 win over Rodriguez at No. 3 to cap off an undefeated afternoon, then Sprinkmeyer defeated Chloe Willetts 6-3, 6-2 at No. 6 and North Texas was in business. After Thoma dropped a point at No. 5, Valenzuela won 7-5, 6-4 against Velasquez at No. 4 in straight sets to put the Mean Green ahead 3-2. Kamilla Galieva then fell in a three-set match with Paul at No. 2, and it all came down to Bardabush against Stokes at No. 1.
After losing the first set 4-6, Bardabush fought back to take the next two sets with ease, 6-1 and 6-2. It was only her second singles win of the season at the ever-demanding No. 1 position, but perhaps a successful trip to Louisville made the previous struggles a thing of the past.
"We've had so many frustrating loses past few weeks so I feel like this win brought our confidence back," Bardabush added.
With that confidence in stow, North Texas can now move onward to two home matches this week against No. 17 TCU and No. 35 Tulsa. They will be the sixth and seventh ranked opponents the Mean Green will have faced through twelve team matches so far this spring.
"We will enjoy this win tonight and then get ready for two tough matches at home this week," Lama said.
1. Bardabush/Sprinkmeyer lose to Rodriguez/Stokes, 8-7 (4)
2. Shestakova/Thoma defeat Boesing/Willetts, 8-7 (6)
3. Cordero/Valenzuela lose to Paul/Velasquez, 8-5
1. Bardabush defeats Stokes, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2
2. Galieva loses to Paul, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4
3. Shestakova defeats Rodriguez, 6-1, 6-2
4. Valenzuela defeats Velasquez, 7-5, 6-4
5. Thoma loses to Boesing, 6-3, 6-2
6. Sprinkmeyer defeats Willetts, 6-3, 6-2