In a thriller, Idaho junior Beatriz Flores came from behind at the No. 6 singles spot and erased a 4-1 deficit in the second set to help the Vandal women’s tennis team rally to a 4-3 victory against Nevada Friday at Washington State University.
“It feels really good for me and for all my team that we can win and we have everything to do that.” Flores said. “Personally I’m getting a lot of confidence in my game and I’m going to keep working hard.”
Flores was the Vandals’ last hope to win a match stemming over five hours long at the Hollingbery Fieldhouse in Pullman.
“Honestly I was so nervous,” Flores said. “I started to just think about every point and I looked to my team and their support and I was like ‘just do it, just go for it,’ and I knew I could do it and I just did.”
The Vandals broke the match open early on, winning the doubles points with Vicky Lozano and Belen Barcenilla obtaining victory at the No. 2 spot. It was Barcenilla’s fifth doubles match win of the season.
Flores and Barcenilla each won both of their matches in singles and doubles for the second consecutive week, helping shut out Idaho State last week 7-0.
“I think this win was so important for us and we are fighting,” Barcenilla said.
Barcenilla and Lozano contributed to the Vandals’ doubles point with an 8-5 win. Barcenilla had another close 7-5 win in her first set followed by a 6-3 victory in the second set to win again in singles.
“I played so comfortable in my doubles match but in my singles match I started to play bad, but my goals were there and I started to play better and I think I’m so happy and all the team is happy for today, it’s a good day for us,” Barcenilla said.
Barcenilla and Constance Alexander lead the team with five doubles wins.
“Being a freshman and coming in the spring is a tough task, she has a tough responsibility, she’s jumping right into season, she hasn’t been warming up with the tournaments in the fall,” coach Myriam Sopel said. “She’s been doing a great job as a part of a team being integrated in a unified solid group of girls. Belen found that support today. Whether in doubles and singles, she’s been climbing up the stairs as being an individual part of this team.”
For the first time this season, Alexander played in the No. 1 doubles spot with Almudena Sanz.
Lozano has won in doubles two weeks in a row, this time with Barcenilla at the No. 2 spot.
Nevada stars Michelle Okhremchuk and Emma Verberne led the way and defeated the Vandals in No. 1 doubles and No. 1 and 2 singles. In the Long Beach Invitational a month ago, Okhremchuk defeated Michaela Bezdickova of New Mexico who came into the tournament ranked No. 74 in the nation, in two straight sets. In the No. 1 singles spot, Lozano shut out Okhremchuk in the first set, but Okhremchuk came back to win the next two sets for a victory.
The Vandals are now 2-5 on the season but have won two consecutive matches after beginning the season 0-3.
“This win shows that we are a strong team, really built on strong foundations now, everybody is really supportive… Bety really felt the support at the end.” Sopel said. “I’m really pleased with everybody and it’s a great fight and the clinching match again. Congratulations to Bety winning 12 of the last 14 points.”
The Vandals will face Gonzaga and Lewis-Clark State in Lewiston on Feb. 23. Gonzaga will be a tough competitor, as the Bulldogs defeated Portland State, who beat the Vandals 5-2 a few weeks ago. Similar to the Vandals, Gonzaga lost to University of Oregon 5-2 and Washington State 6-1. The Vandals were shut out 7-0 by both of those ranked opponents. Gonzaga is coming off a 6-1 victory against Seattle University. LCSC is 4-3 on the season.
Aaron Wolfe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org