UC Irvine 5
Not even injuries can stop the streaking UC Irvine women’s tennis team.
With junior Becky Bernhard nursing a sore back and sophomore Ali Borowicz suffering a muscle sprain during their match against the University of Pennsylvania, the Anteaters battled for a 5-2 victory on March 5 at Anteater Tennis Stadium, extending the team’s winning streak to eight games.
UCI has now won 11 of its past 12 matches and is currently the No. 28-ranked team in the country.
The victory was never in doubt for the Anteaters (13-2 overall, 5-0 Big West), who jumped out to an early 3-1 lead behind strong doubles play and a dominant performance in the singles match.
Needing to win two of the three doubles matches for the point, UCI won all three of the doubles matches to take an early 1-0 lead.
Bernhard and sophomore Clare Fermin teamed up for an 8-6 win, while juniors Inna Agababian and Jessica Broadfoot squeaked by in a 9-8 triumph to give the Anteaters the doubles point. Senior Jayme Hu and Borowicz completed the sweep with an 8-4 victory.
Leading 1-0, UCI needed to win just three of the six singles matches to grab the victory.
Sophomore Heidi Kaloi helped Irvine push its lead to 2-0 with a straight set 6-4, 6-2 win. Borowicz then suffered an injury, causing her to retire from the game and cutting Irvine’s lead down to 2-1.
‘In my singles match I suffered from a muscle strain in my right quad,’ Borowicz said. ‘At the time, it was extremely painful and I could barely move from side to side. Thankfully, it is healing faster than expected and I feel like I will be back to 100 percent very soon.’
From there, Agababian and Broadfoot won the next two matches to give UCI the victory. It was Broadfoot’s 6-3, 6-4 win that clinched the win for the Anteaters.
‘Toward the end of the second set, I tried to stay focused on my match,’ Broadfoot said. ‘The second set was close, so in order for me to win I needed to block out any distractions. I didn’t know that winning my match would give us the fourth [and decisive] point. However, when I saw most of my team as well as Penn’s team cheering by the fence I knew my match was important, either to clinch it or to keep us alive.’
Bernhard came out strong in the first set in her singles match, but was clearly not her usual self in the second set due to the back injury. Bernhard lost 7-6, 6-0 giving Penn its only other point of the afternoon.
With the victory already guaranteed, Fermin added insult to injury with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 win to give the Anteaters the fifth and final point of the match for the 5-2 victory.
‘We’ve been playing to win this season, instead of playing not to lose,’ Borowicz said. ‘That is key for us.’
Head Coach Mike Edles was pleased with the win and said that he is just looking for both Bernhard and Borowicz to recover from their injuries in time for the Big West games in mid-April.
With UCI moving up in the rankings and well on its way to capturing the Big West Title, players are trying to keep improving with each game.
‘In the long term we have our eyes set on the Big West Championship Tournament, and even further on reaching [the] NCAA,’ Broadfoot said. ‘The entire team is playing some of the best tennis of our lives, however we all have the capability to work even harder and step it up to even higher levels.’
The Anteaters will next take on Central Florida on Monday, March 12 at home at 1:30 p.m.