When watching a program improve and grow, there are certain wins that stand out in that process. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's tennis team may have just gotten one of those victories tonight at the Hixson Racquet Club.
The Lady Mocs swept Middle Tennessee 7-0, snapping a 13-match losing streak to the Blue Raiders. UTC had not beaten MTSU since an 8-1 victory in 1999. Tonight's win gives Chattanooga a 3-0 start to the spring dual season for the second year in a row, while Middle Tennessee drops to 1-3.
"We always seem to have a really good battle with them," stated Jeff Clark, who is now two wins shy of 100 for his career as head coach of the Lady Mocs. "A lot of the matches in previous years were pretty close but haven't gone our way. The girls were confident tonight and we knew if we played like we were capable of, we would get the win."
There have been a number of close calls in this series, including last year's 4-3 loss. Despite the sweep, this one was another tightly contested bout that could have gone either way.
Both teams split the first two doubles matches, leaving the No. 3 contest between UTC junior Alexa Flynn (Memphis, Tenn.) and freshman Katie Polk (Woodstock, Ga.) and MTSU's Flavia Nagayama and Alexandra Torres as the decider for the first point.
Even at 7-7, the MTSU pair grabbed a quick 3-1 lead in the tiebreaker. Flynn and Polk responded by rattling off six straight points to take the win and give UTC a 1-0 advantage.
Last year, UTC swept the doubles play and won the first set in five matches, before losing 4-3. The Lady Mocs again went up a set in five singles matches tonight, but were able to keep the momentum going for the win.
"The score does not indicate how tight the match was," added Clark. "We had to go to a tiebreaker to win the doubles and then jumped on them in singles. We didn't let up. We didn't let them back in the match like we did last year. They have some fighters on their team, but we just had to stick with the game plan."
Sophomore Claire Mulyadi (Semarang, Indonesia) was first off the court with a speedy (6-0, 6-0) win at No. 6 over Alexandra Torres. Freshman Kelsey Coots (Huntsville, Ala.) gave UTC a 3-0 lead with her (6-1, 6-3) win over Nayara Moraes at No. 5. Coots avenged a (6-4, 7-6) loss to Moraes at the ITA Regionals in the fall.
It was fitting that the clinching point came from Jenna Nurik (Roswell, Ga.), the lone senior on the team and the Lady Mocs No. 1 player. Nurik defeated Yuiri Nomoto (6-2, 6-4) to give UTC a 4-0 lead and seal the team victory.
"It was great," said Nurik when asked about getting the clinching point. "I really couldn't ask for anything more. At the end, I was racing Kaylene to get there first."
Sophomore Kaylene Chadwell (Franklin, Tenn.) was next off with a (6-3, 6-3) win over Irina Constantinide at No. 2. Freshman Kayla Jones (Memphis, Tenn.) won in three sets at No. 3 while junior Alexa Flynn (Memphis, Tenn.) finished the sweep with a win at No. 4.
"It is a big win, especially for this team," added Nurik. "Last year, we lost a close one to them, so as a team moving forward it was good to get this one. We can definitely build on this and get some confidence for the rest of the season."
Chattanooga travels to Lipscomb for a 7:00 p.m. (E.S.T.) dual match at the Richland Country Club in Nashville, Tenn. The Lady Mocs are back at home next weekend, hosting Austin Peay on Friday, Feb. 8 at 6:00 p.m. at the Hixson Racquet.
Chattanooga 7, Middle Tennessee 0
Feb 01, 2013 at Chattanooga (Hixson Racquet Club)
1. Kelsey Coots/Kayla Jones (UTC) def. Nava, Carla/Nomoto, Yuiri (MT) - 8-3
2. Moraes, Nayara/Constantinide, Irina (MT) def. Kaylene Chadwell/Jenna Nurik (UTC) - 8-3
3. Alexa Flynn/Katie Polk (UTC) def. Nagayama, Flavia/Torres, Alexandra (MT) - 8-7 (7-3)
1. Jenna Nurik (UTC) def. Nomoto, Yuiri (MT) - 6-2, 6-4
2. Kaylene Chadwell (UTC) def. Constantinide, Irina (MT) - 6-3, 6-3
3. Kayla Jones (UTC) def. Nagayama, Flavia (MT) - 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 1-0 (10-5)
4. Alexa Flynn (UTC) def. Nava, Carla (MT) - 6-4, 7-6 (7-4)
5. Kelsey Coots (UTC) def. Moraes, Nayara (MT) - 6-1, 6-3
6. Claire Mulyadi (UTC) def. Torres, Alexandra (MT) - 6-0, 6-0