In 21 years at the helm of the Slippery Rock women’s tennis team, head coach Matt Meredith never had the fortune of coaching a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) women’s singles tennis champion. He does now.
Junior tennis star Lacey Cohen improved upon her quarterfinals appearance as a sophomore by winning the PSAC championship in singles play over Katya Minchenkova of Indiana University (Pa.) in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3.
A three-day gauntlet of matches culminated on Monday morning at the Burt Reese Tennis Courts with Cohen clinching the first ever women’s individual PSAC championship in Slippery Rock tennis history. Cohen joins doubles duo, Jessica Bungo and Ashley Michaux, who won the PSAC doubles title back in the 2004 season as the only PSAC champions in women’s tennis for the Green and White.
While Cohen headlined the long weekend for The Rock, all three Rock women advanced past the first round.
Cohen advanced past East Stroudsburg’s Marina Zardet in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3. Junior Viola Lugmayr battled back against Seton Hill’s Jenna Bailey, 6-7, 6-0, 10-8, only to be rewarded with a second-round match-up with Cohen. Freshman Lois Page drew Bloomsburg’s Vitoria Nery in the first round and made easy work of her opponent, 6-4, 6-1.
A no. 1 vs no. 2 Rock match-up highlighted the second round as Cohen and Lugmayr squared off for a spot in the quarterfinals. A competitive match saw Cohen emerge victorious, 7-5, 6-2 to advance.
Page drew eventual PSAC runner-up, Minchenkova, for her second-round match-up. A battle of England vs. Russia saw the talented freshman push the 2017 All-PSAC West first-teamer to three sets in a close loss. Losing the first set 6-2, Page ground out a 7-6 second set before dropping the tie-breaking third set 10-8 in heartbreaking fashion.
Cohen achieved a walkover victory in the quarterfinals over Mercyhurst’s Emily Gordon to advance to the semifinals.
A familiar foe in Edinboro’s Laura Lopez loomed in Cohen’s semifinals match—Cohen carried a 2-0 record against Lopez coming into the match—and a smooth 6-4, 6-3 triumph was the result. A PSAC finals appearance against Minchenkova on Monday morning awaited Cohen.
Gunning for her 72nd career win at The Rock, Cohen looked to avenge her teammate’s second-round defeat against Minchenkova. Cohen wasted no time putting Minchenkova away with a straight-sets victory, 6-4, 6-3 to claim the PSAC championship.
The Rock also competed in doubles play over the long weekend. Lugmayr and Page continued their blossoming partnership with a first-round victory over Mercyhurst duo, Gordon and Athina Tsagkaraki, 8-5. However, California (Pa.)’s Jo Weisen and Carolin Ganahl ended the duos’ run in the second round with an 8-5 defeat.
With each Rock athlete competing in the tournament collecting at least two wins and Cohen notching the overall win, the Green and White have accomplished each pre-season task that head coach Matt Meredith outlined for his squad.
Able to truly test the PSAC runner-up, Page no longer plays like a freshman as she has established herself as The Rock’s no. 3 competitor. Pairing with Lugmayr, Page has stepped into the no. 1 doubles role with a 5-3 record.
Lugmayr has provided a valuable versatility across the top of The Rock rotation by going 5-3 in singles at the no. 2 position and 6-2 in doubles at the no. 1 position. The Rock’s stalwart no. 1 in singles, Cohen, has shown that she can compete with the best the PSAC has to offer and come out on top.
With Page now seasoned beyond the realm of a normal freshman, a determined no. 1, 2 and 3 and strong depth punctuated by senior leadership, The Rock appears primed for a breakout spring that has been building for years now.
Weekend duel meets with Kutztown University on Saturday and Millersville University on Sunday, Oct. 6 and 7, conclude the fall portion of Slippery Rock’s tennis season.