It was a gritty four-hour affair, but when the smoke had settled No. 68 UC Irvine stood victorious on senior day, defeating No. 39 Fresno State 4-3 last Friday afternoon at the Anteater Tennis Stadium.
UC Irvine is the first team in nearly two months to defeat Fresno State since No. 39 Wichita State on Feb. 21. With the win, the Anteaters improve to 13-7 on the season and 5-1 in the Big West.
Junior Andrea Duva and freshman Arisha Ladhani managed to hold on against a resurging Aishwarya Agrawal and Tanya Murtagh at No. 3 doubles to triumph 6-4 after jumping out to an early 4-0 lead. Junior Sarah Gong and sophomore Mazy Watrous exchanged games with Sophie Watts and Anneka Watts at the No. 2 position but were narrowly edged out 5-7.
Fittingly enough, the outcome of the doubles round came to rest on the shoulders of seniors Kat and Ali Facey, against another team comprised of siblings. Ali Facey held the opening serve to take a 1-0 lead, but Maiar and Rana Sherif Ahmed came out firing to quickly take the next two games. Unfazed, the Faceys remained steady and regained their footing in the set, even emerging victorious on a dazzling 20+ shot rally exchange before clinching the set 7-5.
UCI’s success doubles can be attributed to the new pairings of Gong/Watrous and Ladhani/Duva at the No. 2 and No. 3 spots respectively.
“We were struggling to win the doubles point, so we thought we would change it up. The first match with those two teams, it was Cal Poly, and it was really awful actually, so we’re really debating whether to keep with it for the next match the next day against Santa Barbara, and I’m glad we did, cause now we’re a little bit on a roll,”Coach Edles said.
In the round of singles, No. 6 Anne Susdorf put the Bulldogs on the board with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Duva. Sophie Watts topped Gong 6-3, 7-5 in No. 1 action while No. 2 Maiar Sherif Ahmed handed Kat Facey just her second singles loss of the season, 6-2, 7-5, to put the Bulldogs up 3-1. Undaunted, Ali Facey kept the Anteaters alive with a gritty 7-5, 6-3 win over Agrawal at No. 4 singles while Ladhani rallied from a first set loss to defeat Rana Sheif Ahmed 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 at No. 3 singles to even the score 3-3.
All eyes were then turned to Watrous and Anneka Watts on Court 5, where the outcome of the match would be decided. Watrous took the first set in a tiebreaker but Watts responded with a 7-5 win in the second set. In the third set, Watrous managed to pull away with a 6-3 win to cap off the upset for the Anteaters.
“She did a great job, she’s very fit, and she’s been on a hot streak so she was a good person to have in that situation,” said head coach Mike Edles.
UC Irvine suffered a 4-3 loss to No. 73 CSUN Sunday morning in Northridge.
The Anteaters, now 13-8, 5-2 Big West, easily clinched the doubles point off of a 8-4 win by Gong and Watrous at No. 2 doubles.
No. 6 Jessica Warren defeated Duva in straight sets 6-1, 6-1, and Criss Rodriguez followed with a 3-set win over Ladhani to put the Matadors up 2-1.
Kat Facey resumed her winning ways with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Vivian Lin, but Mickey Hsu put the Matadors ahead with a straight set victory over Gong.
Ali Facey triumphed in a 3-set victory over Kiryang Kim to keep the Anteater hopes alive, by a score of 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.
Once again, it came down to No. 5 singles, but Watrous fell to Kristen Poei 4-6, 6-3, 3-6 to drop the match to the Matadors.