NASHVILLE, Tenn.- When a tennis match nears the 4-hour mark, exhaustion tends to set in for athletes on both sides of the net.
Unfortunately for Lipscomb, it was Western Kentucky that was able to push through the marathon match, and the Hilltoppers took a 4-2 victory at Whitworth Indoor Center on Friday evening.
“Everybody was really tired,” Lipscomb coach Jamie Aid said. “It took 4 fours to have a clinch, but the girls showed great energy and fight.”
Kateryna Popova and Denise Buberl each emerged with singles victories for Lipscomb, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the loss of the doubles point and a pair of 3-set defeats.
Junior Viktoriya Dzyuba was narrowly beaten by Western Kentucky’s Moka Ito (6-4, 7-6 (9-7)), and Madeleine Brooks also suffered a loss to the Hilltoppers’ Monica Malienen by a score of 7-5, 6-7 (5-7), 6-1.
Aid said that Dzyuba is nearly back to full strength after suffering an injury last fall.
“Vika was really close in her match and she looked like her old self,” Aid said. “It felt like a win for her because she is starting to get confidence back in her game.”
Popova and Buberl were up 5-4 in their doubles match against Ito and Malinen, but it was left unfinished after the Hilltoppers clinched with wins the No. 2 and No. 3 doubles spots.
The match allowed Lipscomb to get a taste of what's to come in conference play, as Aid said she believes the Hilltoppers (2-2) are comparable to the ASUN's best teams.
“Western Kentucky compares to the top teams in our conference, like Florida Gulf Coast and North Florida,” Aid said. “It was good to see how our girls play against that level (of competition).”
The Bisons (3-6) will have a few days off to prepare for what is expected to be their toughest match of the season next Friday, when Lipscomb takes on Ole Miss. The Rebels (7-1) are currently No. 9 in the ITA national rankings. The match is set for 1 p.m. in Oxford.
“Those matches are good for us – we have to rise to the occasion,” Aid said of playing SEC-level competition. “We didn’t put a schedule together to collect win after win after win – we made a schedule that would challenge us every weekend.”
Western Kentucky 4, Lipscomb 2
- Kateryna Popova (LIPW) def. Elpida Malamou (WKU) 3-6, 6-4, 6-4
- Moka Ito (WKU) def. Viktoriya Dzyuba (LIPW) 6-4, 7-6 (9-7)
- Monica Malinen (WKU) def. Madeleine Brooks (LIPW) 7-5, 6-7 (5-7), 6-1
- Denise Buberl (LIPW) def. Violetta Shatalova (WKU) 6-3, 6-2
- Thabile Tshatedi (LIPW) vs. Natalia De Ugarte (WKU) 2-6, 6-5, unfinished
- Cindy Oest (WKU) def. Katerina Kandyba (LIPW) 6-4, 6-1
- Denise Buberl/Kateryna Popova (LIPW) vs. Moka Ito/Monica Malinen (WKU) 4-5, unfinished
- Natalia De Ugarte/Elpida Malamou (WKU) def. Viktoriya Dzyuba/Madeleine Brooks (LIPW) 6-4
- Violetta Shatalova/Cindy Oest (WKU) def. Thabile Tshatedi/Katerina Kandyba (LIPW) 6-2