Tennis — Lady Demons show grit, determination in SLC opening win over SHSU

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HUNTSVILLE, Texas – The Northwestern State women’s tennis team leaned on a mixture of veteran leadership and young enthusiasm in a thrilling 4-3 comeback victory over Sam Houston State on Saturday night.

Down a set in three win or go home matches in singles on courts one, five and six, the Lady Demons turned the tide with a trio of second-set triumphs – two going 7-6 – and continued the momentum to pick up three clutch wins and even the score at 3-3.

Once again, junior Polina Ivanova and freshman Emilija Dancetovic clinched the doubles point for NSU. This time however, it was also the overall match point. They completed the come from behind effort with a 6-3 win over Fabienne Gettwart and Khee Yen Wee.

“We came out with amazing energy in doubles to earn the point and clinch the win,” head coach Olga Bazhanova said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us still, especially staying consistent and aggressive with our process, but I am proud of the girls and the way they fought today.”

Sophomores Iryna Vardanian and Polina Mutel gave the Lady Demons a 1-0 advantage in doubles with a 6-4 victory in position No. 1 against the Bearkats’ Mila Milanovic and Carrie Casey.

The original 10 a.m. match time was pushed to 3:30 p.m. due to rain. The delay had no effect on the Lady Demons (8-3) will to fight as they rallied from a 3-0 deficit against the Bearkats (4-7).

Due to the scheduling change, doubles competition was to be played if the score was knotted at 3-3 after singles, and that is just what happened with heroics from junior Polina Ivanova and freshmen Vladislava Litvinova and Judit Castillo.

Ivanova kick started the comeback with a 6-7, 7-6, 7-5 gritty performance against Gettwart in singles No. 1. Gettwart went down 5-1 in the third set, but pulled out six-straight points to give the Lady Demons their first point.

“Polina Ivanova just played with the heart of a lion to win the match,” Bazhanova said.

Litvinova was the next Lady Demon to show her metal, bouncing back from a 6-3 first set loss to win the next two 6-2, 7-6 over Milanovic.

Not to be outdone by the two before her, Castillo showcased her determination to keep the rally going. After having no answers for Diane Friedrichs early in the first set, Castillo put together a 7-6 second set to even the match then took the final set 6-1.

“I am proud of our freshmen who were able to earn the points for the team after losing the first sets,” Bazhanova said.” Sam Houston was ahead of us on all positions this match and they played with good process.”

The Lady Demons have a quick turnaround and two-hour drive ahead of them with a match in Beaumont, Texas Sunday against Lamar. The Cardinals are 5-2 on the year and rolled past Stephen F. Austin 6-1 in both teams’ conference opener on Saturday

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