UC Irvine women’s tennis team was tested last Saturday against a San Diego State squad composed primarily of international talent, but the No. 73 Anteaters remained steadfast to defeat the Aztecs 5-2 and extend their winning streak to three in their fifth match of the season last Saturday at the Anteater Tennis Stadium.
Senior co-captains Ali and Kat Facey helped rally UC Irvine to an early lead, defeating the tandem of Dora Somoracz and Tami Nguyen at the No. 1 position, 6-2. Soon after, Sarah Gong and Arisha Ladhani clinched the doubles point for the Anteaters, toppling Kristin and Jana Buth at No. 2 doubles, 6-2. Though the round of doubles had already been decided, match play was allowed to continue at No. 3 doubles, where the previously undefeated pairing of Vivien Dvali and Mazy Watrous suffered their first loss of the season in a 3-6 effort to Hailey Johnson and Isabelle Hoorn.
“You know, at this point in the season, I couldn’t be happier really. I mean, result wise, it’s been going great, and this is what? Our fifth match? So we’ve won the doubles point four out of five times, so you know, can’t be disappointed with any aspect of it really,” said Coach Mike Edles. “The cool thing about today in the doubles, is you know, in the first four matches, the #3 doubles were winning every time, kind of carrying us, getting there set, and today it was the one and two that came through, and it was the first loss for number three. It’s nice to see one or two really stepping up.”
Thus far in the 2015 season, the Anteaters have only failed to win the doubles point in a loss against No. 64 Kansas State at the ITA Kick-Off Classic last weekend, which was decided by the last two points in a tiebreaker at the No. 1 position between the Facey twins and Sara Castellano and Palma Juhasz.
In singles action, the Anteaters managed to hold off a surging Aztec squad for the win. Kat Facey claimed the first singles point for UCI, dictating the pace of the game with powerful groundstrokes from the baseline to defeat Kennedy Davis at No. 3 singles 6-0, 6-4. At No. 6, Dvali dismissed Hailey Johnson 6-3, 6-0 to put UCI up 2-0 in singles play.
However, the Aztecs would respond in kind with two singles victories of their own to tie the score at 2-2. In another match where both players exchanged aggressive ground stroke rallies, Nguyen came out on top against Ladhani 6-3, 6-4 at No. 2 singles to put the Aztecs on the board. San Diego State earned their single point at the No. 4 position, with Jana Buth defeating Watrous in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2.
With the overall match score at 3-2 in favor for the Anteaters, San Diego State was still in a position to claim the match if they swept the remaining two matches in singles. However, after being pushed to a tiebreaker in the first set, 7-6 (3), Ali Facey overwhelmed Paola Diaz de Regules in the second set 6-2 to clinch the match for UC Irvine. In the final match of the day, Gong defeated Buth, 6-3, 3-6, (10-5) at No. 1 singles in the only match of the day to feature a third set.
“What was great today was to get wins at five and six. To get those points down five and six today, we really needed that. So it’s nice to see different positions, different players, stepping up, cause to be successful throughout the season you definitely need that, you can’t just rely on one or two players,” said Coach Edles.
UC Irvine’s women’s tennis will have a week off before resuming play on Saturday, February 14. Where the Anteaters will host the San Francisco Dons at 11 a.m. San Francisco, currently 3-1, will prove to be an interesting test for UCI, as the Don’s most recently defeated Kansas State, the only team that Irvine has lost to in the season thus far, 4-2 last Saturday in a singles only match-up.