Hurricanes win Kick-Off, clinch ITA tourney bid

The women’s tennis squad emerged as this weekend’s ITA Kick-Off Tournament champion after two decisive wins over Cal State Northridge and the University of South Florida.

With a 7-0 sweep over Cal State Northridge, the Hurricanes faced off in Sunday’s championship match against the University of South Florida and claimed a place in the ITA Tournament with a 6-2 team victory.

“On this team, everyone is held accountable,” coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews said. “We don’t put the pressure on any one individual – the entire team leads by example.”

The Canes took the doubles point with easy wins from the second doubles tandom of sophomore Melissa Bolivar and freshman Liat Zimmerman (8-3), and third doubles team, senior Gabriella Mejia and freshman Lina Lileikite (8-2).

Singles wins from Mejia (6-2, 6-2), Lileikite (6-4, 6-3), Zimmerman (6-2, 6-1) and sophomore Brittany Dubins (6-2, 7-5) clinched the hard-fought victory for UM.

In Saturday’s match against Cal State Northridge, the Hurricanes took an early lead with strong doubles play from the first doubles team, senior Anna Bartenstein and Dubins, and the second doubles team, Bolivar and Zimmerman.
The energy carried into singles play with quick, straight-set wins from Mejia (6-1, 6-0), Lileikite (6-1, 6-1) and Bolivar (6-4, 6-1).

“The quick wins help your other teammates,” Mejia said. “You have to send energy all over the courts. You have to keep thinking about winning the next point and focus on your own game. You go crazy if you are too worried about the other courts.”

After split sets, Zimmerman and Dubins each contributed to the Hurricane lead with tiebreaker wins in the third set.

Despite not winning a game in her first set against Cal State’s Jennifer Sher, UM’s first singles player Anna Bartenstein rebounded and came away with the 0-6, 6-0, 6-1 victory.

“I came out slow and didn’t have good focus, I wasn’t playing point for point,” she said. “In the second set, I took it point for point, focused on her weaknesses and played it out. It’s important to be here for each other. When you see the scoreboard, you want to stay positive and transact positive energy.”

Despite the quick start to the season, the team understands that the season is a long one and they have a lot to look forward to. The Hurricanes travel to Charlottesville, Va. for the ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championships on Feb. 17.