Women’s tennis team falls to Ohio State
The women’s tennis team dropped to 6-6 with a 6-1 loss to No. 56 Ohio State (9-4) on Wednesday at Fertitta Tennis Complex.
It was the Rebels’ second straight loss to a Big Ten opponent, and the team’s lack of depth was a contributing factor.
UNLV won matches on court one in both singles and doubles, but was unable to win a single point on every other court. Lucia Batta, ranked 51st in the NCAA in singles, along with Santa Shumilina took down the Buckeyes top duo of Noelle Malley and Granine O’Neill 8-4.
Ohio State answered by winning doubles matches on courts two and three to clinch the doubles point.
Batta also won UNLV’s only point of the day on court one in singles. She jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first set before her opponent retired mid-match. Ohio State’s Gabriella De Santis, ranked 116th in the country, stopped the match only minutes in due to an illness.
“I’m happy because I won easily, but the other side I wanted to play a better match,” Batta said. “I wanted to win my match.”
As unsatisfying as it was, the win still moves Batta into third place for career wins at UNLV. With 113 victories, Batta passes former All-American Elena Gantcheva and needs only eight wins to pass Jolene Watanabe for second all-time.
Batta’s play hasn’t been the problem for UNLV, who has struggled to a 6-6 start despite its star’s stellar play.
“You can’t win matches with your number one player,” said head coach Kevin Cory. “Championships are always going to be won at the four, five and six spots.”
One player who could step up in those spots for UNLV is freshman Kamelia Dimitrova. The first-year player from Bulgaria has started the season 4-8, and has shown Cory glimpses of greatness.
“It was great to see her out there today, and we think she has a great future,” Cory said. “To see her come back and make it a competitive second set was a good sign.”
Dimitrova lost her match in straight sets (6-2, 6-4) but drug turned the match into battle before falling victim to bad luck. She was penalized a point during a critical point in the match when Paola Artiga threw her racquet on court six.
Because Dimitrova was the only player still active, the penalty was assessed to her and virtually ended her comeback attempt.
“In the beginning I was a little scared and not sure,” Dimitrova said. “My coach was saying to fight for each point so in the second set that’s what I was trying to do.”
UNLV will need Dimitrova to continue progressing, along with others, if it wants to add quality wins to its resume. The Rebels will host UC Santa Barbara and No. 27 Columbia on March 15 and 17.
“We don’t have any bad losses, but we don’t have any significant wins so far,” Cory said. “We need to do something to change that, and fortunately we have some chances coming up.”