BEAUMONT, Texas – Northwestern State’s impressive string of four straight appearances in the Southland Conference Women’s Tennis Tournament finals came to an end Friday, but not without a fierce fight in a 4-2 quarterfinal loss to third-seeded Central Arkansas.
The Sugar Bears (20-6) handed the Lady Demons (13-9) their last two losses of the season, a 5-2 decision on April 14 in the regular-season finale for NSU, and with Friday’s outcome at the Beaumont Municipal Tennis Complex. In the rematch, the Lady Demons were tenacious on every court, but couldn’t get the upper hand.
UCA claimed the doubles point with a 7-5 comeback decision at No. 2 by QiLi Ma and Rada Manataweewat over NSU’s Iryna Vardanian and Judit Castillo. Had that match gone to the Lady Demons, the No. 1 match was a nailbiter, notted at 6-all, and it might have been NSU opening on top.
With each of its two singles wins, at No. 2 by Polina Ivanova with a convincing 6-1, 6-4 triumph and at No. 3 from Polina Mutel who dominated the second set in a 6-4, 6-0 victory, Northwestern State squared the match score. But each time, UCA regained control a few minutes later with a singles win.
Lady Demons coach Olga Bazanova, whose lineup included three freshmen, two sophomores and a junior, appreciated the level of competitiveness and her team’s toughness.
“It was a great tennis match today. Unfortunately, we didn’t win, but I am proud of every single girl on the team who competed hard and showed strong leadership on the court. We had our chances in doubles and singles,” said Bazhanova. “Congratulations to UCA who played very well and tough today.”
The match reflected the approach the young NSU squad carried through the season and in a hotly-competitive conference race, giving its head coach much cause for optimism about the 2018 campaign.
“Every season comes to an end and it’s not always with a win,” she said. “The most important thing is that this young team always chooses to play with toughness and a strong team attitude. We have a bright future ahead of us with all the girls who choose to be disciplined and work hard to achieve goals.”
Central Arkansas 4, Northwestern State 2
Beaumont Municipal Tennis Complex
1. Pornpawee Pramethong (UCA) def. Iryna Vardanian 7-6, 6-2
2. Polina Ivanova (NSU) def. Hee-Jin Oh 6-1, 6-4
3. Polina Mutel (NSU) def. QiLi Ma 6-4, 6-0
4. Amiru Shimoguchi (UCA) def. Judit Castillo 6-1, 6-3
5. Marli Van Heerden (UCA) def. Vladislava Litvinova 6-0, 7-5
6. Rada Manataweewat (UCA) vs. Kateryna Avram 6-4, 2-6, 1-4, unfinished
1. Pornpawee Pramethong/Hee-Jin Oh (UCA) vs. Polina Ivanova/Polina Mutel 6-6, unfinished
2. QiLi Ma/Rada Manataweewat (UCA) def. Iryna Vardanian/Judit Castillo 7-5
3. Amiru Shimoguchi/Marli Van Heerden (UCA) def. Kateryna Avram/Vladislava Litvinova 6-1
Northwestern State 13-9
Central Arkansas 20-6
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2); Singles (2,4,3,1,5)
2017 Southland Championships – Opening Round