AMHERST, Mass. - The UMass women's tennis team avenged an earlier season loss, as they knocked-off St. John's with a great come-from-behind victory Saturday afternoon at the Bay Road Tennis Club. The win pushes the Minutewomen record to 6-1 on the season, while the Red Storm fell to 1-5.
A good crowd turned out at the Bay Road Tennis Club to see a hard-fought match between the two sides. St. John's was able to gain momentum early, winning the doubles point by taking two-out-of-three matches. Joanna Zwirbulis and Ksenia Mikhaylova got the squad started in third doubles, defeating Tanisha Hodgson and Jocelyn Providence, 8-3. It was the first loss for the duo in dual match competition. Candynce Boney and Maude Lecluyse evened things up against Ira Aleksova and Nakita Austin in number two doubles in a back-and-forth match. Lecluyse was able to seal the win for the pair, ending the match with an ace.
With doubles play knotted at one apiece, all eyes turned to court one as Magdalena Ploch and Julia Comas played out an evenly contest match with Ece Firat and Jenny Yonkus. Ploch and Comas took a 8-7 advantage in the match, and had a chance to serve for the win, but Firat and Yonkus hung tough and broke serve to send the match into a tiebreak. The pair from St. John's would go on to win 8-6 and take the match 9-8, winning the doubles point for the Red Storm.
Trailing 1-0, it would be up to the singles play to pull out a win for the Minutewomen.
"It was dissapointing to lose a close doubles point that we had chances to take, but the girls really came out firing in singles, especially Maggie and Julia who took their first sets pretty quickly," said head coach Judy Dixon.
Ploch and Comas, coming off a tough doubles loss, came out with intensity, dominating their singles matches to get UMass back in the match. Ploch showed why she is one of the top players in the Northeast, taking down Zwirbulis, 6-0, 6-0 in number one singles. Comas followed that up with a victory of her own, 6-2, 6-4 over Aleksova in number two singles, giving UMass a 2-1 lead in the match.
But St. John's would fire right back, as Firat and Yonkus would take wins in third and fourth singles to give the visiting Red Storm a 3-2 advantage in the match. Firat knocked-off Boney, 6-4, 6-1, while it took Yonkus three sets to beat Lecluyse, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.
With the match on the line, Kaitlyn Carpenter kept the Minutewomen alive, getting a win against Austin in fifth singles. Carpenter won a pair of close sets, taking the first set, 7-5, before closing out the match, 6-4, in the second.
It would all come down to sixth singles with the match tied at three apiece, and Providence and Alyssa Liantonio left to play. Providence, a freshman, stepped-up for UMass, winning the final singles point, 6-4, 6-1, and giving the Minutewomen their third-straight victory.
"Kaitlyn and Jocelyn stepped ut at 5 and 6 to bring us back. It was big to have Jocelyn close out the match at 3-3 as a freshman. Being able to come back after losing the doubles point two weeks in a row is also impressive. That's not something you see often. Now it's time to switch gears, get some rest tonight, and come out firing against Army tomorrow."
The squad will have a quick turnaround as they host the Black Knights of Army Sunday afternoon back at the Bay Road Tennis Club (12:45 p.m.).