Tennis snaps nine-game losing streak

Steven Rowell/Contributing Writer 

The latest tennis team win could not have come at a better time for the Panthers.

A 5-2 win against Florida Atlantic University that snapped the team’s longest losing streak in 30 years was crucial in gaining momentum right before heading to the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.

“It makes us very optimistic especially because we beat our rival and it was senior day,” Head Coach Katarina Petrovic said. “It is definitely good for the confidence especially for the new girls on the team.”

Petrovic cites the ability to perform in doubles and staying healthy as being key for the team in hopes of having a successful tournament run.

“The key in the tournament will be doubles since in conference matches the match stops at four points, so not all the matches are played completely, that’s why until the tournament, we are working on our doubles,” Petrovic said.

The Panthers made sure that they would make the most of their final match before the SBC Tournament.  It was also Senior Day and Rita Maisak, back from a near month-long injury absence, made the most of her final home game as she won her doubles and singles match and helped give FIU a doubles point for the first time in nine matches.

With the victory, the Panthers finished their regular season 3-15. The tournament will be an opportunity to salvage a season that saw little success under Petrovic. The Panthers will trek to Lafayette, La., to take part in the tournament that begins on Thursday, April 18.

The Panthers have enjoyed success in their past two trips to the tournament, winning the championship in 2011, and reaching the championship round of the tournament last season.

“We already talked about it and they are aware of it, and that must be the reason that they are a lot more optimistic about the tournament, and the seniors since it’s their last year they really want to win the tournament,” Petrovic said.

Last season, the Panthers finished with a 5-14 record before reaching to the championship of the Sun Belt Tournament. That is where they fell in defeat to University of North Texas. It is a loss that still remains in the back of the head for Boha, Maisak, and Holt.

The only players that remain from the past two tournaments run are junior Giulietta Boha, senior Magali Holt and Maisak.

While the three upperclassmen have experience in the tournament, freshman including Carlotta Orlando, FIU’s biggest star this season will get her first taste of the Sun Belt Tournament. Orlando finished her freshman campaign with 10-5 record in singles and leads the team in singles victories. She could not be reached for comment.

“I just tell her [Orlando] to give 100 percent and that there is no pressure,” Petrovic said.

Three other freshmen, Aleksandra Trifunovic, Michelle Sabado and Lotte Gras, will make their first appearances in the Sun Belt Tournament as well.

From the defeat against North Texas last season to having a rough showing in the regular season this season, the Panthers will look to put those two things behind them as they are motivated to make a run and win the tournament for the second time in three years.

On Thursday, the Panthers take on the University of South Alabama, a team that defeated FIU earlier this season 4-3 back on Feb. 15. Petrovic felt that was a winnable match and the players will look to avenge their earlier loss to the Jaguars.

“We had a couple match point opportunities against them in the season, and we couldn’t win it but hopefully we come out stronger and come out with the win,” Petrovic said.