Sports, Spring, Women's Tennis

Women’s Tennis Maintains Perfect Start, Beats Harvard and No. 10 Syracuse

Boston College women’s tennis entered the weekend with unbridled confidence, boasting five straight wins to start the spring season, and the Eagles proved that they were in no way ready to snap the streak against Harvard and No. 10 Syracuse. With what seems to be one of the most talented teams in program history, BC took down its first top-10 team ever, polishing off a spotless weekend. The Eagles narrowly defeated the Orange on Sunday, 4-3, which was a fitting follow-up to a 5-2 road win against Harvard on Friday night.

The Eagles (7-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) will head into their Battle of Comm. Ave against Boston University next weekend with a spotless record, temporarily quieting any talk of inconsistency that has plagued them in previous seasons. BC went just 13-11 last season, largely alternating wins and losses in conference play, but has shown plenty of improvement this season.

“I am so proud of how hard our girls compete,” head coach Nigel Bentley told BCEagles.com. “They have worked so hard. They earned an awesome win today against a top-10 team.”

The Eagles went into the ACC opener strategically, deviating from their traditional doubles lineup in sending Kylie Wilcox to the far court, where she and Natasha Irani took on Syracuse’s (4-2, 0-2) third seed. Things began to look grim when BC’s top pairing, Jackie Urbanati and Yufei Long, fell, 7-5, to Syracuse’s Gabriela Knutson and Miranda Ramirez. The Eagles rallied in the remaining doubles courts though, as Dasha Possokhova and Elene Tsokilauri got things started by doubling up the Orange’s second-ranked duo. Then, Irani and Wilcox clinched the doubles point in the outside court with a 7-5 victory over Dina Hegab and Guzal Yusupova.

The match eventually came down to the final singles game, as the the Eagles and Orange battled back and forth across all four courts before bringing in the remaining two singles matches to decide the victory. Long cruised to a two-set win over Knutson in the first court, but Sofya Golubouskaya took Wilcox to three frames, ultimately edging her out in the third to tally Syracuse’s first point of the game. Urbanati exhibited back-end strength in the far court, taking her last two sets 6-3, 6-4 to put BC back at the two-point advantage and within one win of sealing the match, but the Orange were in no mood to lie down. Irani fell in three sets to Yusupoua in the fourth matchup, placing the fate of the match in the final wave of singles players.  

Sofya Treshcheva put Possokhova away in two sets, knotting the score at 3-3 and turning all heads to the center court, where Laura Lopez and Dina Hegab went back-and-forth for the game-winning point. Lopez edged out her opponent, 7-6, in the first set, and even with the program’s first victory over a top-10 opponent resting on her shoulders, she didn’t flinch.

Instead of bending under the pressure, Lopez beat Hegab by a 6-3 margin in a strong second set, securing what is easily the biggest win in the program’s history to begin the 2019 ACC campaign. Accompanied by the deafening cheers of her teammates, Lopez etched herself into the record books on the fifth-seeded singles court in one of the program’s most special moments, one that could carry it throughout the remainder of the season.

This was the perfect ending to a weekend of wins, especially when the Friday night match against Harvard (5-1) seemed to foreshadow something very different.

For the first time this spring season, the Eagles failed to seize the doubles point, finding themselves at an immediate point deficit against the Crismon. BC’s strongest duo of Urbinati and Wilcox met its match in Harvard’s Rachel Lim and Jenna Friedel, while Lopez and Long were outplayed in the adjacent court by Erica Oosterhout and Natasha Gonzalez.

In true form, the Eagles proved their resiliency with three singles wins by Long (6-2,6-0), Urbinati (6-4, 6-1), and Possokhova (6-4, 6-3) to put BC ahead. This time, it was Wilcox who felt the pressure to clinch the final point.

That pressure was short-lived, though, as Oosterhout proved far less efficient in singles competition and fell quickly to Wilcox in two sets (7-5, 6-3). This made for a tidy victory, despite a rocky start to the match, maintaining the Eagles’ winning streak and perhaps providing the necessary momentum for Sunday’s upset.

If BC continues to play cleanly and strategically, a strong showing in ACC play and potential national attention could be heading its way. Bentley’s team has bounced back from an up-and- down 2017-18 campaign, and it’s showcased depth and resilience thus far. If the Eagles are able to feed off of this weekend’s momentum while maintaining this type of play, fans could easily see a record-breaking season, in addition to this weekend’s historic win.

Featured Image by Jonathan Ye / Heights Editor

February 4, 2019
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