Women’s tennis season ends in heartbreak
The women’s tennis team took the court Saturday as heavy underdogs to No. 72 Fresno State (14-8) in its quarterfinal matchup in the Mountain West Tournament at the Sierra Sport & Racquet Club in Fresno, Calif.
The Rebels stormed out of the blocks, sprinting out to an early 3-1 lead, but fell just short, allowing the Bulldogs to fight back and win the match 4-3.
Due to inclement weather on Friday, the four quarterfinal matches were all moved to Saturday.
UNLV started strong thanks to its two senior superstars. Lucia Batta finished her collegiate career with a dominant victory over Sophie Watts (7-6, 6-1).
With the win, Batta closed out one of the most impressive careers in the history of the Mountain West Conference Tournament. She went a perfect 6-0 in tournament matches, and won all 12 sets by a combined score of 73-25.
As for Batta’s 2013-14 campaign, she finished with a 27-9 record and earned All-Mountain West Singles honors for the fourth consecutive season. Batta also finished only four wins shy of the all-time school record for career singles wins with 121.
On court two, Aleksandra Josifoska capped off her career by eliminating Fresno State’s Rana Sherif Ahmed in straight sets (7-5, 6-3). The four-year starter lost only one match in tournament play in her career.
After struggling with nagging injury concerns early in the season, Josifoska’s win improved her record to a very respectable 16-8, landing her on the All-Mountain West Singles team for the fourth straight season as well.
Santa Shumilina pushed the Rebels even further into the lead with a win (7-5, 6-2) over Sofya Malysheva on court three. That gave UNLV a commanding 3-1 lead, and left the Rebels needing only one more point to advance to the semifinal match.
Fresno State rallied on courts five and six, with Anneka Watts downing Paola Artiga in three sets (6-4, 5-7, 6-4) and Anne Susdorf coming from behind to knock off Anett Ferenczi-Bako (4-6, 6-3, 6-1).
That left the teams tied heading into doubles play with the match on the line.
Fresno State took the first match with a quick 8-3 win by Aishwarya Agrawal and Malysheva over the UNLV’s duo of Alexis Garrett and Artiga. Batta and Shumilina went down on court one to Anneka and Sophie Watts by a score of 8-3. It clinched the win for Fresno State, and ended UNLV’s season.
It marks the first time since 2001 that the team didn’t reach at least the semifinals in the conference tournament.