MTSU Women’s Tennis Fall Just Short on Senior Day
By: Zachary Lohn
MTN Sports Reporter
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – In a match that was defined by twists and turns, the UAB Blazers Women Tennis Team topped the Lady Raiders 4-3.
The Blazers looked dominant in doubles action as they took courts 1 and 3. The pairings of Maggie White / Sydney Clarke and Enya Ratkic / Vanessa Mellynchuk for UAB took their respective courts 6-1 and 6-2.
Lady Raiders Head Women’s Tennis Coach Tayo Bailey-Duvall said that this is something that needs to be fixed before the start of the C-USA tournament next week. “We harp on it and are good at it in practice then we come out and that is our biggest hiccup.”
This put the Lady Raiders in a 1-0 hole going into singles, and that deficit was quickly doubled as UAB’s Adela Wasserbauerova defeated Lee Barnard of the Lady Raiders 6-0, 6-1 on court 1. Lee was not able to get anything going against the Blazers’ number one.
Then, a few minutes later, Love-Star Alexis of MTSU dropped her match on court 4 6-2, 6-3. This meant that the Blue Raiders would have to win the final remaining courts.
The Lady Raiders were given a bit of hope as Noelle Mauro and Lily-Sophie Schmidt won on their respective courts within minutes of each other reducing the lead to 3-2 UAB. Mauro had a hard fought first set before dominating the second set to win 7-6 (8-6), 6-1. Schmidt came up with big shot after big shot to win 7-5, 6-4.
The Senior Zani Barnard tied things up on court 3 after winning her match 6-4, 4-6, 6-0. Zani said that it was great winning on her Senior Day. “It was really special. I really wanted to get the win. Even though I lost the second set, I took my time, then took a bathroom break.” It worked as she evened the match score at 3-3.
It all came down to MTSU’s Muskan Gupta and UAB’s Sydney Clarke. The match was tight and emotions were going back and forth to the end. The two split the first two sets before Clarke went up 4-1 in the final set. Gupta then went on to win the next four games to make the third set 5-4 in favor of the Blue Raiders. Clarke was able to fend off match point and then the match went into a tiebreaker to decide the winner of the dual match. This is when chaos ensued.
While the score was 1-0 in favor of Clarke, Gupta called a ball out that Clarke believed to be in. She asked the chair umpire if it was in, and the chair umpire said that it was out. While this was happening, Lady Raiders volunteer assistant, coach Scott Kathary, changed Gupta’s call to in without the chair umpire noticing. This is when UAB head coach Mark Tjia started arguing with the chair umpire. After Tjia did not get his way, he went behind the chair umpire and slapped the chair in which the chair umpire was seated. By rule, this should be a point deduction, but there was nothing done.
At the end of it, the result was point MTSU and a 1-1 tiebreaker. Clarke then went on to win 6 of the last 9 points to win the match 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4). You could see the thrill of victory and agony of defeat as the Blue Raiders went to console Gupta and the Blazers were piling on Clarke.
Bailey-Duvall said that today showed the effort that there has been all year, but there has to come a point in which they have to start closing matches.
They get the chance next weekend as the ATC will be the home of the C-USA Women’s Tennis Championships.