There were plenty of rather new tennis fans at the Streich-Henry Tennis Complex Monday and many of them were just enjoying the great weather and trying to figure out just how the match was going.
For most of them they were there to see if Cameron women were going to be making the trip to Orlando, Fla., to join the men at the NCAA Division II Sweet 16.
While some were following the results on their phones others did just what fans do and that’s wait for the crowd to form because that’s usually where the important action is about to happen.
For much of the match it seemed that it was going to be Cameron’s top two players but as is often the case, there are always changes in the script and when a crowd gathered to watch CU’s Kateryna Rudenko and MSU’s Emilija Visic, the home fans, most of them Cameron men’s players and other students, there was a sense something was about to happen.
Rudenko had won the first set 6-4 and owned a 5-3 lead in the second and when she got that final point the crowd started to celebrate and it was like everything else stopped; there was no reason to continue. The Cameron women had clinched a 4-1 victory and it was time to celebrate.
“That was a pretty good deal because you never know how those things are going to fall,” CU Coach Josh Cobble said. “We have a well-balanced team and it just happened that it worked out where she got the winning point for us. Kate is just one of those players who seems to get the job done when we need it. She maintains a great deal of composure in those tough situations and we were all happy she was able to end it.”
As Cobble had noted a couple of days before the regional opener, it almost always starts with the importance of getting that doubles point and that’s what the Aggies did to set the tone for the match.
Ironically, the clinching point came from one of the Aggies who sat out of the doubles and she was primed and ready for the challenge.
The doubles matches saw the Aggies jump out to early command as Cobble’s top two players, Vasilisa Rolunova and Anastasia “Stacy” Uspenskaia, built an early lead and garnered a 6-3 victory to put the Aggies on the verge of taking the point for advantage in the doubles matches. While No. 2 doubles was all even at 4-4 in the first set, CU’s Jenna Goessel and Magda Wawrowska, were in charge and their 6-2 decision in No. 3 doubles ended that portion of the match and after a five-minute break the three ITA officials on hand to oversee the action, called the players to the courts and then battle was on to see which would advance.
There was little doubt about No. 1 singles as Polunova coasted, 6-2, 6-3, and was overwhelming, nailing shots down the lines and attacking the net whenever the opportunity presented itself.
Uspenskaia took the first set against Alice DiMatteo at No. 2 singles but she ran into some problems after going up 6-4 in the first set. And when MSU’s Hannah Yip swept Lea Manga of Cameron, 6-2, 6-1, there was some concern on the faces of the Aggie fans.
Cut the Aggies got another edge at No. 6 singles when Wawrowska coasted to a 6-1, 6-2 decision to put the Aggies on the verge of winning at 3-1.
Goessel pulled out a tough 7-5 victory in the first set at No. 5 singles but MSU’s Skylar Minns was able to bounce back and had a 3-3 tie when Rudenko ended the drama and started the “ice water bath” celebration which had to feel good to Cobble as temperatures soared into the 80s at the sunny CU courts.
“We really got lucky with the weather,” Cobble said. “To have very little wind and warm temperatures today was a far cry from what we faced Friday with the men.”
So now Cobble will be busy doing more trip planning and getting practiced completed before heading to Florida.
He felt great about how his women played.
“I do think we’re peaking at the right time,” Cobble said. “Now we wait and see where they will seed us. I think we will probably be seeded between 5 and 12 but you never know. It’s hard to get local people to understand just how good these teams at Nationals are going to be. Most of the teams at Nationals will have played some tough DI teams and they are usually loaded with all the great international players. That’s what it takes to win at our level.
“I would say that Barry (University) is going to be right there among the top challengers. We’ve had to play them before in the first round and that’s a tough challenge. For our players this is a great reward to make it this far. We will find out the official seedings and matchups Wednesday and then get busy scouting them and finding some video.
The NCAA has many of the details completed but there are still things that have to be done.
“The NCAA already has the hotels reserved and what we have to do is get rental vehicles and work on our practice schedule and things like that,” he said. “It is a bit harder for me coaching both the men and women but it’s great to have two good assistants (Oscar Toro) and (Tina Pigeassou) around to help me. We work well together.”