Men’s and Women’s Tennis Stumble to Finish Line

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Men’s Tennis

 

The Dons dropped their final two matches of the season, losing 4-0 to Pepperdine University on April 20 in Malibu, Calif. and 4-2 to Loyola Marymount University on April 21 in Los Angeles. Those losses dropped them to 6-18 overall and 2-7 in the West Coast Conference, a dismal regression from the 2016-17 season, during which the Dons finished 10-14 and 5-4 in the WCC. At ninth place in the 10-team conference, the Dons failed to qualify for the conference tournament.

 

Coming into the weekend, the Dons had nothing but pride to play for. They were already ruled out of contention for the WCC tournament, whereas the Pepperdine Waves were still fighting to qualify and the Loyola Marymount Lions were fighting for seeding. Entering the weekend, Pepperdine needed to win their final two matches of the regular season and needed the University of the Pacific to lose to the University of San Diego.

 

The Waves (7-16, 3-6) got ahead after securing the doubles point and never let the Dons back in the match. In No. 1 Doubles, Pepperdine’s pairing of Dane Esses and Lautaro Pane defeated the Dons’ pair of Johan Joenhagen and Ryan Marker 6-1. The Dons would respond with Oliver Poysti and Mert Zincirli defeating the Waves’ pair of Max Mendelsohn and Brian Berdusco in No. 2 doubles. In the decisive rubber match of the doubles portion, Pepperdine emerged victorious behind the 6-3 win of Dennis Uspensky and Scotland Garapedian over Paul Giraud and Marco Berretto.

 

The Waves entered the singles portion of the event with the upper hand. To complete the win, Pepperdine won three consecutive singles matchups, putting the match out of reach. First to fall was Berretto, who lost to Garapedian in straight sets, 6-4, 6-1. Shortly thereafter, Berdusco defeated Marker 6-4, 6-2, to put the Waves up 3-0. Sealing the win was Pane, who defeated Poysti 6-3, 6-3.

 

The next day, San Diego defeated Pacific 4-0. For Pepperdine, the situation was simple: win or go home. The Waves lost a close match to Santa Clara University, but at least they went to home to Malibu.

 

Playing the next day at Loyola Marymount, the Dons lost 4-2 to the Lions. In the doubles competition, the Dons lost 2-0, giving LMU the advantage entering the singles portion. In the No. 3 pairing, Giraud and Berretto lost 6-2 to Ethan Prost and Diego Nava. Securing the doubles point for the Lions were Charles Boyce and Lucas Moreno, who defeated Zincirli and Poysti 6-4.

 

The singles competition was much more competitive, taking five matches to be decided. In the No. 6 singles matchup, Max Kaiser defeated Berretto in straight sets, 6-0, 6-1. Minutes later, Boyce put the Lions within a point of sweeping the Dons with a 6-1, 6-1 defeat of Poysti. With their backs against the wall, the Dons fought back to keep the match alive. Giraud gave the Dons life with a commanding 6-3, 6-3 win over Alex Bourgeois in the No. 5 slot. Marker brought the Dons a step closer to upsetting the third best team in the WCC with his 7-5, 6-3 win over Smith. Lucas Moenter shut the door on the Dons’ comeback hopes and defeated Joenhagen 7-5, 6-3 to win the match for LMU and secure the third seed in the conference tournament.

 

Three Dons, Joenhagan, Berretto and Poysti, saw their careers with the green and gold come to a close.

 

Junior Shanna Dos Santos, pictured here at the Battle of the Bay tournament. CHRIS M. LEUNG/USF DONS ATHLETICS

Women’s Tennis

The Dons women’s tennis team suffered a similar fate to their male counterparts this season, also dropping their final two matches to No. 10 Pepperdine and LMU. The Dons lost 10 of their last 11 matches to finish the season at 1-7 in the West Coast Conference and 3-15 overall – good for ninth in the conference, but not good enough to qualify for the conference tournament.

 

The Dons dropped their April 20 match against Pepperdine 7-0. The Waves (20-2, 9-0) dominated the doubles competition, with the pair of Evgeniya Levashova and Dzina Milovanovic, who are ranked ninetieth in the country, making light work of Anna Sakiran and Shanna Dos Santos, 6-1. Laura Gulbe and Adrijana Lekaj secured the doubles point for the Waves, defeating Alexa Meyer and Amber Del Rosario 6-1. Those results left the third doubles match unfinished. The match was abandoned at 3-3, with USF’s pairing of Emily Maxfield and Mya Bui holding their own against the eighth best doubles pair in the country, Luisa Stefani and Mayar Ahmed.

 

In the singles competition, the Waves emphasized their domination with a clean sweep of all six matches, despite resting their best player, 16th-ranked Ashley Lahey. In No. 1 singles, 25th-ranked Stefani defeated Maxwell 6-2, 6-0. Dzina Milovanovic then defeated Dos Santos 6-1, 6-3, putting the Waves within one point of the match. To win the match, 19th-ranked Mayar Sherif beat Sakiran 6-0, 6-2. The format of this match was clinch and finish, meaning the remaining three singles matches were played to their conclusion anyway. With the match put away, the Waves did not let up. In quick succession, 67th-ranked Levashova defeated Bui 6-2, 6-1, 88th-ranked Gulbe bested Hanna Borjeson 6-1, 6-1 and Lekaj beat Meyer 6-3, 7-6.

 

With the 7-0 win, the No. 10 Pepperdine Waves clinched their seventh straight West Coast Conference regular season championship and the top seed in the conference tournament.

 

Looking to end the season on a high note, the Dons then took on the Lions of LMU. Luck was not in the Dons’ favor, as the Lions won 5-0 to lock up the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament. In the doubles competition, Bui and Maxfield fell to the 28th-ranked pair of Veronica Miroshnichenko and Eva Marie Voracek, 6-2. LMU secured the doubles point with a 6-3 win by Anna Romeka and Siobhan Anderson over Dos Santo and Sokiran.

 

The Dons fared no better in the singles competition. Maxfield lost 6-0, 6-4, to Miroshnichenko, who is also the 51st ranked singles player in the country. Voracek then defeated Sokiran 6-3, 6-4 in the second singles matchup. Borjeson lost to Yesica de Lucas 6-4, 6-1, in the No. 4 slot and Elvira Juravilova knocked off Dos Santos, 6-3, 6-3, on court five to end the match and secure the win for the Lions.

 

Coach Peter Bartlett and the Dons will look to come back stronger next year, as no members of the team will be graduating. Rita Colyer from Ontario, Canada has signed her national letter of intent to join the Dons for the 2018-19 season. Colyer is ranked in the top two thousand girls tennis players in the world by the International Tennis Federation.

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