With six spring sports having either begun or preparing to play, Slippery Rock University women’s tennis (0-2) was the first team to dress for competition.
On February 27, sophomore Lois Page and company headed south on I-79 and dusted off their rackets for a match against Div. I Cleveland State University (1-4), ending The Rock’s longest stretch between varsity competition since World War II. In all the excitement, SRU fell short to the Vikings, 6-1.
At the Pennsylvania Tennis Academy in Wexford, Pennsylvania, Cleveland State claimed the evening’s first team point following doubles triumphs in the first and third flights. Miruna Vasilescu and Klara Mrcela downed Page and freshman Adriana Gonzalez Sanchez, 6-0, before Selma Tounsi and Bethany Yauch toppled juniors Amy Varckette and Lauren Fadden, 6-2.
The doubles segment of the match close with a more inspired performance in the second flight. Senior Lacey Cohen and junior Olivia Warner put up a fight, but were barely bested by Kateryna Avram and Blanche Lenoan, 7-5.
The Vikings conquered in the first five singles matches to earn the team victory.
Page, a 2019-20 Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) All-American, performed in the top singles flight for Meredith’s squad, defeated again by Vasilescu, 6-1, 6-3.
Cleveland State continued on to take wins in the second and sixth flights, respectively, as Lenoan topped Gonzalez Sanchez (6-2, 6-2) and Avram beat Fadden (6-2, 6-1).
The fourth and fifth flights saw Tounsi dispatch freshman Gabi del Val del Toro (6-2, 7-5) and Sian Payne turn away Warner (7-5, 6-1).
To cap the night, Cohen, a five-time All-PSAC West honoree and 2018 PSAC Singles Champion, was able to prevent her team from being shut out, stole a 10-5 decision from Yauch in the tiebreaker of the third flight. The victory was Cohen’s 124th at Slippery Rock.
Eight days later, on March 7, Slippery Rock looked to rebound in its annual non-conference match against the Tartans of Carnegie Mellon University (2-0). Back in Wexford, this time at the Oxford Athletic Club, the decision was the same, as The Rock bowed to Carnegie Mellon, 4-3.
Although SRU worked out to a 3-1 advantage over the fifth-ranked team in Div. III, the Tartans recovered with three consecutive singles victories.
The Rock pinned the first point of the match on the board with a pair of doubles successes out of the third and first flights. Fadden and Varckette outdid Megan Qiang and Victoria Tankova, 8-1. Page and Gonzalez Sanchez followed suit, overcoming Bin Zheng and Lindy Cornwall, 8-5.
In the first flight of singles, Page recorded another point and earned her first victory of the year as she outclassed Zheng (6-4, 6-3).
Abigail Khieu pulled the Tartans closer in the sixth flight, felling Varckette, 6-0, 6-0. Gabi del Val del Toro pushed the lead back to a pair against Alex lordache, 6-4, 1-6, 6-1.
It was Carnegie Mellon who then took hold of the momentum, collecting victories in the subsequent three contests.
Lindy Cornwall outlasted Gonzalez Sanchez in the second flight, 6-1, 5-7, 7-5, and was followed by narrow wins from the fourth and fifth flights. Ola Wojciak dropped Warner, 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 and Qiang pulled out past Fadden, 7-5, 6-7 (3-7), 6-2.
For her 2-0 effort against Carnegie Mellon, Page was announced as the PSAC West’s Athlete of the Week on March 8. It was the second time that Page has earned the honor and it adds to her collegiate resume that also includes two All-PSAC West accolades.
The team is scheduled to open its conference competition against Edinboro University at home on Saturday.