DeLAND, Fla. – The USC Upstate women's tennis team fought to the very end but came up on the wrong end of a 4-3 decision to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington on Thursday morning.
"Man I'm just so proud of the way all of our girls fought today." USC Upstate head tennis coach Tim McLane said, "We got off to a slow start in doubles and we challenged the team to make something happen and they came out playing some really solid tennis in singles."
Coming into the match on Thursday morning the Spartans appeared to be locked in going into the doubles portion of competition. USC Upstate (1-12) had won three of the last four doubles points against opponents, Thursday was a different story however. The Spartans No. 1 tandem of Maria Jardim (Goiania, Brazil) and Vale Zarama (Pasto, Colombia) lost to the tandem of Maddy Muller-Hughes and Sabrina Barisano 6-3. With the loss the tandem of Jardim/Zarama is now an even 5-5 on the year.
At the No. 3 doubles position the pairing of Noelia Acuna (Salta, Argentina) and Gabriela Cevallos (Quito, Ecuador) lost 6-3 to the pairing of Rachel Marthinsen and Lea Dubois-Rebiere. This was the first loss of the year for the pairing of Acuna/Cevallos as they fall to 3-1 on the season. The Spartans lone bright spot in doubles came from the No.2 Swedish pairing of Victoria Saldh (Gothenburg, Sweden) and Elin Hellberg (Malmo, Sweden). The duo defeated Sarah Horn and Celeste Matute 6-4 to avoid being swept in doubles play and they improved their record to 5-5 on the campaign.
In singles play the tides seemed to be turning in favor of the Spartans as they took four of the first six sets in singles action. Then the Spartans ran into a bit of adversity as senior Noelia Acuna had to retire due to injury in the second set. "When that happened our girls had every reason to pack it in and call it a day. Every one of them competed their tails off and we almost pulled that out despite everything working against us," McLane said.
The Spartans responded well as Hellberg and Saldh won in straight sets at their respective flights to tie the match at 2 courts each. Hellberg defeated Lea Dubois-Rebiere 6-3, 6-3 to pick up her first win at No. 4 singles and improve to 6-7 on the season. Saldh then defeated Muller-Hughes at the No. 1 flight 7-5, 6-4 and improved her overall record to 8-5 on the campaign.
Anna Boza (Canary Islands, Spain) battled her way to a straight sets win over Annie Gupta 7-5, 7-5. The win at the No. 6 singles position gave the Spartans a 3-2 advantage with two matches still being played. Jardim fell at No. 3 singles to Rishika Ravindran 7-5, 6-3. The loss tied the match at 3 as all eyes turned to the No. 5 singles court.
Rachel Marthinsen of UNC Wilmington took the first set 6-4 over Zarama. In the second set it appeared that Zarama had all the momentum as she won easily 6-2. The match went into a winner takes all third and decisive set. Through the first five games of the third set Marthinsen held a slim 3-2 advantage and the Spartans still had a chance to win the match. Marthinsen closed out the match by winning the final three games of the set.
The USC Upstate women's tennis team will have about a week off before they play South Carolina State on March 22nd at the USC Upstate Tennis Complex. First serve is scheduled for 3:00 p.m.
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