Tennis picks up steam against WVSU, Edinboro

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The Slippery Rock University women’s tennis team (4-4, 2-1 in the PSAC West) swung its rackets on consecutive days this past weekend, prevailing over both West Virginia State and Edinboro, and pulling into second in division standings.

First up, on Friday night, the women hosted fellow section contender WVSU (4-3, 3-0 in the MEC), slotted fourth in the Atlantic Region in the most recent Oracle ITA Division II Women’s Team Rankings. In Wexford, the Yellow Jackets sought their first away victory of the season.

After the teams split the first two doubles matchups, SRU’s first-time pairing of junior Amy Varckette and freshman Gabi del Val del Toro grabbed the third flight, 7-6, and claimed the doubles point.

“It’s not a regular doubles team,” said head coach Matt Meredith, who is in his 23rd year at SRU. “It just happened to be that I had to put Gabi there […] Gabi has a knack for winning […] She’s going to fight and do what she needs to do to get points. And that’s what you’re seeing there.”

In solos play, sophomore Lois Page bowed to Abigail Wild in the first flight, 6-4, 6-1. The defeat was Page’s third singles loss in the last four outings.

“[Page] is playing the top of the region,” Meredith said. “Dropping those weren’t bad. She’s just playing really good competition. She’s playing everyone’s No. 1 player, too, and she’s stepped up in that role very well this year.

The contestants shared the two following matches, as senior and 2018 PSAC Singles Champion Lacey Cohen outlasted Chante Malo prior to Varckette being bested in the sixth flight.

The tallies knotted at two each, The Rock stomped on the gas pedal. Freshman Adriana Gonzalez Sanchez and del Val del Toro pulled out victories, clinching the team victory. Combined, the Spaniard rookies had won eight consecutive singles competitions.

“They’ve been great additions to this,” Meredith said. “They’re kicking butt and taking names. Our Spanish connection is doing very well.”

Junior Olivia Warner, a one-time All-PSAC honoree, put a bow on the 5-2 triumph with a fifth-flight win.

“To say [Friday’s match] was a big win is an understatement,” Meredith said. “That helped us keep our ranking […] Past history, they’ve had us the last couple of years. To get that win was huge. It helped us kind of legitimize where we were at.”

The next day, Slippery Rock trekked north to Edinboro (2-5, 1-2 in the PSAC West) and continued its roll, decisively conquering the Fighting Scots, 6-1.

“Going up to Edinboro was just icing on the cake,” Meredith said. “We just took care of business.”

Coming off of a league victory against California (Pa.) the previous Tuesday, Edinboro was overpowered from the outset. Slippery Rock’s duos ran away with each of the three doubles contests.

The experienced coupling of Varckette and junior Lauren Fadden opened competition with a firm 6-1 outdoing in the third flight. The Rock’s top pairing of Page and Gonzalez Sanchez earned the doubles point shortly thereafter, improving to a reputable 6-2 showing for the year so far. Freshman Lindsey Fadden and Warner, who was accompanied by her third partner in as many bouts, forced out Edinboro’s second flight team, 6-4.

SRU maintained its dominating play, taking five successive singles matchups, three of such in shutout fashion. Both Gonzalez Sanchez and del Val del Toro, on six- and four-match winning streaks, respectively, pushed their season singles marks to 6-2.

Back-to-back, Warner and Lauren Fadden blanked their opponents in the fourth and fifth flights. Varckette downed her challenger, 6-1, 6-0, in the final session of the day. Only Page’s retirement early in the singles section prevented Slippery Rock from a clean sweep.

In the thick of its season, the team has now won three consecutive matches.

“That was a big stretch of matches for us,” Meredith said. “The hardest stretch of the year, basically […] To get through that at .500 and where we should be, I’m very pleased.”

Up next on the schedule are a couple of home tilts with non-conference foes in Saint Francis, on Thursday, and West Liberty, on Saturday.

Brendan is a senior converged journalism major serving his second year on The Rocket staff and his first semester as sports editor. Previously, he served as assistant campus life editor and assistant sports editor. After graduation, he hopes to cover sports for a newspaper or magazine.

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