Spartans Unable to Overcome Slow Start against Western Carolina

Spartans Unable to Overcome Slow Start against Western Carolina

SPARTANBRUG, S.C. – The USC Upstate women's tennis team home losing streak extended to four matches on Sunday afternoon with a 6-1 loss to Western Carolina at the USC Upstate Tennis Complex.

"That was a tough one to lose today. It's one of those matches where we could have just as easily won 4-3 or 5-2, but instead we lost and that's just how it goes sometimes." USC Upstate head tennis coach Tim McLane said, "We fought hard and competed great throughout the entire match, and there was a 15 minute period where we almost flipped that match around in our favor."

For a third consecutive match the Spartans lost the elusive double point to the Catamounts. The Spartans No. 2 doubles tandem of Victoria Saldh (Gothenburg, Sweden) and Elin Hellberg (Malmo, Sweden) made quick work of Western Carolina's (1-2) No. 2 pairing, winning 6-1. The battle for the all-important doubles point came down to the No. 1 and No. 3 doubles court. Gabriela Cevallos (Quito, Ecuador) made her season debut for USC Upstate (1-5) at No. 3 doubles with partner Ana Boza (Canary Islands). The duo battled it out to the end but came up on the wrong end of a 6-3 decision.

With the doubles point knotted up it all came down to the No.1 doubles teams for each squad. Coming into the match Maria Jardim (Goiania, Brazil) and Vale Zarama (Pasto, Colombia) had accumulated a 2-1 doubles record on the season and were looking to get their first win at the No. 1 doubles position. The duo fought throughout the match but came up short with a 6-4 loss to Savannah Taranto and Jordan Strickland.

Going into the singles portion of the competition the Spartans knew that they needed to win at least four courts. Jardim once again moved up in the lineup and now found herself playing in the No. 2 singles position. Going into the match the freshman had lost just one match on the season and looked poised to get back on the winning track. Unfortunately, Jacy Smith powered her way through to a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Jardim.

Hellberg was the second Spartan to fall victim to Western Carolina as the Catamounts to the No. 6 singles court 6-2, 6-3. Senior Noelia Acuna (Salta, Argentina) looked to keep the Spartans hopes alive with a win at the No. 3 singles position. After dropping the opening set 6-2, Acuna battled to the end and almost forced a third set. The senior lost the second set 7-6 and Western Carolina held a decisive 4-1 advantage.

On court No. 5 Boza lost the opening 6-4 to Julia Pezzuco. The Canary Islands native won the second set 6-3 and forced a conclusive third set. Pezzuco won the final set 10-5 and Western Carolina picked up another point in the singles portion of the competition.

In just her second match as the Spartans No. 1 singles player Saldh found herself in her second consecutive three set match. As always Saldh started out strong and won the opening set 6-2. The second set was tightly competitive as both players battled for every point. Jordan Strickland ended up winning the set 7-5. With the match already decided the two players played out the final set, Saldh fell 10-8.

Zarama entered the No. 4 singles matchup looking to break a recent losing skid. The senior won the first set easily 6-1 and then lost a tightly contested second set 7-5. In the final set of the afternoon Zarama defeated Carli Deehr 6-4 for the Spartans lone single win of the afternoon.    

"We've been so close to getting it done a few times now," McLane responded. "We just need to stick with what we know and keep working and eventually we'll get over the hump."

USC Upstate stays at home next weekend with a pair of matches against Charleston Southern and Hampton University. It will be the first Big South Conference matches of the season for the Spartans.

Follow USC Upstate women's tennis on Facebook (UpstateAthletics), Twitter (@UpstateMWTennis), Instagram (@upstatespartans), YouTube (USCUpstateAthletics) and via text/e-mail alerts (