NACOGDOCHES, Texas – The UTEP tennis team won the doubles point while also receiving singles triumphs from Kirsten Prelle, Kathleen Percegona and Milena Baigorria on the way to knocking off Stephen F. Austin, 4-2, on the road Sunday afternoon.
The effort snaps a four-match skid for the Miners (4-9), who showed good heart in toppling the Ladyjacks (4-6) to secure their first road win against a division I program in two years (W, 4-2, at Colorado, Feb. 17, 2017).
“It was a solid start by winning the doubles point,” UTEP head coach Ivan Fernandez said. “We got off to a really fast start in singles by winning the first set on five of the six courts. Kell (Kathleen Percegona) and Milena (Baigorria) played extremely well today, winning in straight sets to take us to 3-0. SFA came back with wins at No. 2 and No. 5 singles. Rine (Nozaki) fought back to win the second set after being down. Kirsten (Prelle) was down, 5-1, in the third set and came fighting back to clinch the match, 7-5. I’m super proud of these girls today. They fought all the way to the end. Kirsten showed great focus and determination to overcome that deficit.”
The match commenced in doubles, with the Miners taking the early 1-0 advantage. Kirsten Prelle and Vanessa Valdez bounced Kaja Ljubic and Gabi Guilarte, 6-4, at the top slot. Kathleen Percegona and Yvette Van Oijen were derailed by Kyndall Misak and Nida Kamal, 6-3, at No. 2 doubles. Rine Nozaki and Erandi Martinez clipped Armelle Cerdan and Darinka Tiboldi, 6-4, at No. 3 doubles to secure the doubles point for UTEP.
Percegona was locked in early and never looked back on the way to 6-2, 6-1 win against Ljubic at No. 3 singles. That was followed by Milena Baigorria rolling to a 6-3, 7-5 outcome vs. Misak at No. 6 singles.
Martinez squared off against Tiboldi at No. 2 singles. The sophomore took the first set, 6-2, before the SFA player rallied with 6-1, 6-1, outcomes in the final two sets. It was the same fate for Van Oijen against Kamal at No. 5 singles. She secured the opening set, 6-2, but couldn’t sustain the momentum with her foe taking the final two sets, 6-1, 6-1.
SFA would get no closer, though, with Prelle showing off her perseverance to clinch the match for the Orange and Blue against Guilarte at No. 1 singles. The freshman secured the first set, 7-5, before being edged in the second set, 7-5. She fell behind, 5-1, in the third set but caught fire by winning the next six games to clinch the set, 7-5, and the match (4-2) for the Orange and Blue.
Nozaki’s match at No. 4 singles against Cerdan went unfinished. The freshman dropped the first set, 6-1, but took the second set, 7-5. The third set was tied, 2-2, when the match was halted with the team outcome taken care of.
The Miners will shoot for their second win in as many days when they return to the courts against Sam Houston State at 12 p.m. MT Monday. They will then conclude the busy stretch by competing at Houston at 12 p.m. MT Wednesday).
UTEP 4, Stephen F. Austin 2 – 3/17/2019 at Nacogdoches, Texas
1. Kirsten Prelle (UTEP) def. Gabi Guilarte (SFA) 7-5, 5-7, 7-5
2. Darinka Tiboldi (SFA) def. Erandi Martinez (UTEP) 2-6, 6-1, 6-1
3. Kathleen Percegona (UTEP) def. Kaja Ljubic (SFA) 6-2, 6-1
4. Armelle Cerdan (SFA) vs. Rine Nozaki (UTEP) 6-1, 5-7, 2-2, unfinished
5. Nida Kamal (SFA) def. Yvette Van Oijen (UTEP) 2-6, 6-1, 6-1
6. Milena Baigorria (UTEP) def. Kyndall Misak (SFA) 6-3, 7-5
1. Kirsten Prelle/Vanessa Valdez (UTEP) def. Kaja Ljubic/Gabi Guilarte (SFA) 6-4
2. Kyndall Misak/Nida Kamal (SFA) def. Kathleen Percegona/Yvette Van Oijen (UTEP) 6-3
3. Rine Nozaki/Erandi Martinez (UTEP) def. Armelle Cerdan/Darinka Tiboldi (SFA) 6-4
Stephen F. Austin 4-6
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (3,6,2,5,1)
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