Tennis Begins Final Stretch With 4-2 Win Over ULM
Shestakova, Valenzuela Record Undefeated Afternoons
DENTON -- At a point in the season when every match is of the "must-win" variety, the North Texas tennis team outlasted ULM on Tuesday afternoon, 4-2. With the win, the Mean Green improved to 7-12 on the season and kept alive the possibility of finishing over .500 overall.
"This was a really important match in the big picture, because we needed to start this final stretch off with a win," head coach Sujay Lama explained. "Today the conditions were tough. We didn't play pretty tennis, we didn't play great tennis, but we won. We know what we are capable of doing, we just have to win matches."
Two North Texas players - Agustina Valenzuela and Anastasiya Shestakova - went undefeated on the day, which started out with doubles action.
Valenzuela teamed up with Ana Sofia Cordero to get the Mean Green on the board with a 6-2 win over the Warhawks' Letha Gaigher and Petra Horakova at the No. 3 position. With the matches tied 1-1, the duo of Shestakova and Alexis Thoma finished off Caitlin Herb and Sophie Rufyikiri by a score of 6-2 to give the team a 1-0 advantage going into singles.
ULM came out tough in singles, as Rufyikiri defeated Franziska Sprinkmeyer 6-3, 6-3 at No. 4 and Jana Duhanova put away Thoma at No. 5, 6-3, 6-4. Valenzuela came up big for North Texas at No. 3, beating Herb by a score of 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 to even up the overall match at 2-2. Kamilla Galieva notched her second win at No. 6 singles with a 7-5, 7-6 (5) win over Gaigher, which left the Mean Green needing one of the final two matches to get the victory.
That is when Shestakova came in. After winning the first set, she came back from a 6-5 deficit in the second and won in a tiebreaker to earn North Texas its seventh win of the season with a 6-4, 7-6 (1) result over Horakova.
"Nastya played two gritty matches; she just has that tenacity that inspires the team," Lama said. "In that doubles match, she and Alexis found a way to win us the point, and I'm really proud of her fight in singles."
"I survived," Shestakova said after the win, still exhausted from her two-hour singles match. "Today it was very hot and windy, so it was difficult conditions for everyone. It was sometimes difficult to play in long points, but the team did well with it."
Kseniya Bardabush was one game away from a win over Amy Olivier on Court 1 before Shestakova clinched the match. Bardabush and Olivier went unfinished with a 5-7, 6-3, 5-4 score.
North Texas will take a well-earned, three-day break from competition before heading down to Arlington to face the Lady Mavs on Saturday, then coming back for the team's final match of the regular season against South Alabama on Sunday. The Lady Mavs sit at 12-4, while the Jaguars are a perfect 16-0 through matches played April 4.
1. Bardabush/Sprinkmeyer lose to Duhanova/Olivier, 6-4
2. Shestakova/Thoma defeat Herb/Rufyikiri, 6-4
3. Cordero/Valenzuela defeat Gaigher/Horakova, 6-2
1. Bardabush vs. Olivier goes unfinished, 5-7, 6-3, 5-4
2. Shestakova defeats Horakova, 6-4, 7-6 (1)
3. Valenzuela defeats Herb, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4
4. Sprinkmeyer loses to Rufyikiri, 6-3, 6-3
5. Thoma loses to Duhanova, 6-3, 6-4
6. Galieva defeats Gaigher, 7-5, 7-6 (5)