Photo by Ruben R. Ramirez – UTEP
Down 3-1 in the match, the UTEP tennis team dug deep to rally past Tarleton State 4-3, at the El Paso Tennis Club Thursday.
The victory marked the Miners’ third consecutive win and served as career win No. 100 for head coach Ivan Fernandez.
“I’m super proud of how hard the team fought today,” UTEP head coach Ivan Fernandez said. “To again be down 3-1 with three matches left, and the girls found a way to win all three of them. It was a very special day for not only for the team and the seniors but for me as well. It has been a tough last seven days where we won four out of five to finish the regular season. I want to thank my two great seniors, Erandi and Vanessa for these last four years with me.”
The Miners took the doubles point, but Tarleton State won the first three singles matches to put UTEP in a 3-1 hole. The Orange and Blue dug deep and rallied for the win thanks to Erandi Martinez, Veronika Lebisova and Elena DiBattista.
The match started well for UTEP with it taking the doubles point with wins at No. 2 and No. 3 doubles. Vanessa Valdez/Lina Sachica bounced Mihaela Codreanu/Faustine Palatte, 6-4, at No. 2. Lyric Bonilla/Kathleen Percegona then took down Hadley Jones/Elsa Boisson, 6-3, at No. 3.
Their efforts helped make it a moot point that Thassane Abrahim/Lebisova were bested by Jemi Aguilar/Martha Makantasi, 6-4, at No. 1 doubles.
The visitors regrouped and put the Miners on their heels in singles play. Boisson toppled Percegona, 6-4, 6-0, at No. 4 singles to even the match. Makantasi dropped Sachica, 6-2, 6-2, at No. 3 singles to make it 2-1 and then Codreanu held off Vanessa Valdez, 6-4, 7-6, at No. 1 singles to force the Miners into a 3-1 deficit.
But on “Senior Day,” the squad refused to quit. Martinez, one of the two seniors honored in a pre-match ceremony, started the rally with a straight-set victory (7-5, 6-3) against Aguilar. The focus then switched to a pair of freshmen, both of whom lost their first set. Lebisova was squaring off with Celia Vaudiau, and she dropped the opening set, 7-5. She recovered to win the final two sets, 6-2, 6-2, to even the match at three.
Fellow classmate DiBattista bested Rose Watanabe by the identical score at No. 6 singles to secure the win for the Orange and Blue.
UTEP will now prepare for the 2021 C-USA Championships, which begin on April 22.
With the come-from-behind victory the Miners finish the regular season with a winning percentage of at least .500 for the first time since 2015-16 (11-10 regular-season record). This is the first time since at least 1990-91 that the Orange and Blue closed out the regular season with three straight wins. Prior records are incomplete.
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UTEP 4, Tarleton State 3
- Mihaela Codreanu (TARL) def. Vanessa Valdez (UTEP) 6-4, 7-6
- Erandi Martinez (UTEP) def. Jemi Aguilar (TARL) 7-5, 6-3
- Martha Makantasi (TARL) def. Lina Sachica (UTEP) 6-2, 6-2
- Elsa Boisson (TARL) def. Kathleen Percegona (UTEP) 6-4, 6-0
- Veronika Lebisova (UTEP) def. Celia Vaudiau (TARL) 5-7, 6-2, 6-2
- Elena Dibattista (UTEP) def. Rose Watanabe (TARL) 5-7, 6-2, 6-2
- Jemi Aguilar/Martha Makantasi (TARL) def. Thassane Abrahim/Veronika Lebisova (UTEP) 6-4
- Vanessa Valdez/Lina Sachica (UTEP) def. Mihaela Codreanu/Faustine Palatte (TARL) 6-4
- Lyric Bonilla/Kathleen Percegona (UTEP) def. Hadley Jones/Elsa Boisson (TARL) 6-3
Tarleton State 9-10
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (4,3,1,2,5, 6)
Gallery by Ruben R. Ramirez – El Paso Herald Post