Women’s tennis moves to 8-0 in Big Sky play with 4-3 win over MSU

Patricia Carpenter

In Saturday’s doubleheader against the University of Montana Grizzlies and the Montana State University Bobcats, No. 73 Sacramento State women’s tennis squeaked by with its 4-3 win over the Bobcats to advance them to a perfect Big Sky Conference record of 8-0 this season.

Dima Hrynashka, the women’s tennis coach, said he had mixed emotions about the squad’s performance, but was glad they were able to fight off the Bobcats.

“I really liked how the women played in the morning match against Montana,” Hrynashka said. “I think they kind of relaxed and did not play their best tennis this afternoon [against Montana State]. They were really tired.”

In the first match of the day against the Grizzlies at Rio Del Oro Racquet Club, the Hornets’ home court, Sac State was quick to jump out ahead of UM as they won 6-1.

During the doubles portion, Jennifer Ong and Tori Trylovich were partnered up in position No. 3 for the Hornets and won their set 6-1 to give the women the advantage over the Grizzlies.

Freshman Ana Loaiza Esquivias and Daria Savchenko added the second win in No. 2 doubles to put Sac State up 1-0. Deimante Bulatovaite and Alina Soltanici dropped their match 4-6 and were the last to finish.

Soltanici commented on the women’s lackluster doubles record and said the move from position No. 2 to No. 1 has been daunting, because her and Bulatovaite are competing against the toughest doubles teams. She believes they are still inexperienced sophomores and have much to learn.

“Today [Saturday] we were pretty tired,… the weaker teams’ No. 1 in doubles are really good, so it’s a lot harder for us,” Soltanici said, regarding her and Bulatovaite’s two doubles losses against Montana and Montana State. “We’re trying to improve and sometimes not everything works out.”

The sophomore duo’s doubles record is 6-10.

Savchenko provided a huge lift for the Hornets in singles after downing her two opponents in straight sets to get the first wins during individual play. She beat UM’s Catherine Orfanos 6-1, 6-3 and MSU’s Liana Bates 6-0, 6-2.

The junior said she feels less pain right now compared to how she felt at the beginning of the spring season with the inflammation in her right shoulder, but is not 100 percent healthy just yet.

“I feel better but [I’m] still not in as good shape as last year,” Savchenko said. “It’s a little bit harder to play, but I’m getting better.”

She is now 10-5 in singles and holds the second-best record on Sac State’s team.

Bulatovaite, Savchenko and Soltanici were the only Hornets to pull out a victory in both of their singles contests. Bulatovaite retired UM’s Laurence Pelchat 7-5, 6-2 and MSU’s Wanda Holopainen 6-2, 6-4.

Soltanici got her revenge in her first singles match in position No. 1 against the Grizzlies’ Precious Gbadamosi after losing to her in the Big Sky Conference Championship in 2014 in position No. 2. The Hornets’ sophomore lost in three sets, but this time around she beat Gbadamosi in straight sets (7-6(3), 6-3).

“The last match [against Gbadamosi] was a really long one and unfortunately I lost in three sets,” Soltanici said. “This time I really wanted to play her because I wanted a rematch … I was pretty confident in myself. I knew I would be do my best, play good and win this match.”

With her 6-3, 6-4 win over MSU’s Laura Middel, Soltanici clinched Sac State’s win over the Bobcats and put the Hornets up 4-2.

Redshirt freshman Anna-Maria Nau, who was inserted into the lineup due to Olivia Boija recovering from an illness, was the lone Hornet to drop a match against Montana in singles position No. 2 (6-7(6), 7-5, 6-10).

She was the last to finish her singles matches in both contests on Saturday for Sac State and lost her second competition to Montana State’s Jessica Brycki (1-6, 6-7(3)) in No. 3.

True freshman Loaiza Esquivias split her competitions while moving into Boija’s No. 4 position. She nabbed a straight sets victory over UM’s Hannah Sulz (6-3, 6-3), but was unable to replicate that performance in her match against MSU’s Naomi Holopainen. The Bobcat shut her down 6-4, 6-2.

Ong filled in at singles No. 5 and improved to a 4-3 record after rallying to a third set over UM’s Cam Kincaid. The junior captain outlasted her 3-6, 6-3, 1-0 (10-8).

In position No. 5 in the second match, Ong’s doubles partner Trylovich took over for her in the lineup. The redshirt freshman had a commanding straight sets win against Montana State’s Angelina Philippova (6-2, 6-3). She is now 4-1 overall in singles.

The Hornets (13-9) have four matches left in the regular season and continue with doubleheader action against Big Sky foes Northern Arizona University and Idaho State at home on Saturday, April 4.