Women’s tennis finishes homestand with win
Winds ripped through Fertitta Tennis Complex at 20 miles-per-hour on Wednesday.
Santa Shumilina’s serve cut right through them.
Shumilina jumped all over Oregon’s Lana Buttner with a flawless 6-0 win in the first set. Her straight set win clinched UNLV’s 4-1 victory over Oregon to put the Rebels at 8-7 on the season.
While Shumilina’s win took only two sets, it was far from easy. The final set reached a tiebreaker, and after leading it 6-3 Shumilina (6-0, 7-6) found herself up only one with the match on the line.
“I just tried not to think about the last point, and I was trying my best not to think about the score,” Shumilina said.
Shumilina served the ball and sprinted to the net. She surprised Buttner with a quick shot to the far right, but Buttner made an acrobatic return that looked to be well out of Shumilina’s reach.
“I slipped,” she said.
“I think she, like, shanked it a little bit, and it was lucky for me so I just finished it with my volley backhand.”
The finish capped off what Shumilina called her best performance of the season, and clinched one of the biggest wins of the year for UNLV. Oregon entered the match 7-7 with ranked wins over South Carolina and Colorado but played 12 of their 14 matches indoors.
“She’s a very experienced player and she’s got a lot of confidence,” said head coach Kevin Cory about Shumilina. “When the match is on the line, she’s somebody I’d like to have out on the court.”
The match was nearly cancelled, but the winds fell just below the cut-off limit of over 20 mile-per-hour winds.
“The conditions were really difficult, but like I tell the girls – it’s the same on both sides of the court, so you can either fight the wind or you can fight your opponent,” Cory said.
Doubles play was moved from the beginning of the match to after singles. In the end, doubles play wasn’t needed to decide the match, and was left out altogether, something Cory hasn’t experienced often.
“Very rarely now, we used to do it in the old days but it only happens on situations with weather like potential rain coming so you can try to get a majority of your match in,” he said.
Shumilina used the wind to her advantage. She utilized a full arsenal of finesse shots, with the wind pushing most power shots over the back-line.
“I felt like the wind was actually helping me,” she said. “I just got a little nervous and I started to push the ball instead of going through it.”
Shumilina is now 12-10 overall heading into conference play, and hopes to improve even more in the final six matches of the regular season.
Cory feels the win over a big time program like Oregon can propel UNLV down the stretch.
“Any time you beat a Pac-12 team that’s a significant result for us,” he said. “What we hope is this gives us the confidence we need going into conference play.”