Panthers spring to victory

Steven Rowell/contributing writer

Despite seeing her tennis team lose its sixth consecutive match on Feb. 22, Head Coach Katarina Petrovic knew her team was close.

She felt the energy the team had on Feb. 22 in the Florida State loss was exactly what it needed going into Sunday’s match against conference foe Arkansas State.

It turns out they had more than enough energy ready for the Red Wolves.

Junior Giulietta Boha, along with Seniors Magali Holt, and Rita Maisak won their respective singles match to help the Panthers author their first win of the season winning 5-2 and improving to 1-6.

“I needed our upper class girls to step up to be examples to our freshmen,” Petrovic said. “I told the team after the loss to Florida State, even though we lost, if I saw the same energy today that we had Friday, we would be fine.”

The Panthers showed resilience in their first win of the season. After falling in two of three doubles matches, the Panthers took five of the six singles matches. Three of the singles matches went to a maximum three sets.

Maisak lost her first singles set and was down 5-2 in second set but rallied to win the match.
Holt found herself down one set, and trailing 4-1 in the second set before turning it around and coming out with the victory for her first singles victory of the season.

“I always preach to the players that they can comeback win a match no matter what the score is,” Petrovic said.
“When I was down 5-2, I just told myself, ‘OK, you have nothing to lose now’ and I just started playing my tennis and started to relax a little,” Maisak said.

Freshman Carlotta Orlando lost in her first set before battling back to win the next two sets to continue her hot start to the season, improving her singles record to 6-1. Despite the 1-6 start to the season, the Italy native has been one of the consistent bright spots for FIU.

“She is mentally strong and believes in her game,” Petrovic said.
While resilience was key in the victory, Petrovic felt the hot weather and the fact that three of the singles matches going the distance played the biggest role in their victory.

“I feel it was a big advantage. The reason we won our matches was because we were at home and the weather was a bit warm and I think the opponent was struggling with the heat,” Petrovic said. “I told the girls if we played longer matches it would be to our advantage. We had three matches go to three full sets and we won all three.”

The barometer read 85 degrees with heavy humidity on Sunday at noon, a stark contrast from Arkansas’ 50 degrees at the same time.

“I don’t think we practiced or played in weather like today this semester, so it was kind of a shock to all of us,” Holt said. “We are used to practicing in the heat, so when players come here we know what to expect and they don’t.”

Now that the Panthers have their first win, Maisak and Holt feel it can be a springboard to a strong finish to their season.

“It’s always that one win that is really hard to get, but once you get that first win, it really helps you get the others,” Holt said. “At the beginning when you have so many new players, it was so hard to feel like a team, but with more months together, I’m pretty sure we are going to do good from now on.”

“I feel like we are getting better now, and we are working harder as a team, everyone is trying harder,” Maisak added. “We didn’t have a good start to the season, and I really hope we are going to do better now.  It’s not how we start, it’s how we finish.”