Panthers Frustrated in Home Opener

Reinaldo Llerena/ Staff Writer

The Troy University Trojans’ comeback win in the final singles match of the FIU women’s tennis home opener on Friday, Jan. 29 left the Panthers frustrated and annoyed.

The Panthers (1-1) lost to the Trojans (2-1), 4-3, in their home opener after junior Carlotta Orlando lost to Sanae Ohta of the Trojans in the final singles match of the day. Ohta came back from a one-set deficit to down Orlando and the Panthers.

“There’s nothing you can say to the team after a loss like this,” said head coach Katarina Petrovic. “These matches can go either way. Unfortunately for us, this match didn’t go our way. It’s frustrating, but we need to execute better and be more consistent in the next match and move on from this one.”

Recurring troubles in doubles play was the downfall of the Panthers against Troy.

Freshman Maryna Veksler and junior Nina Nagode defeated Troy’s Hannah Seizer and Alicia Rodriguez, 6-3, in the first doubles match.

However, Orlando and redshirt freshman Andrea Lazaro lost to Jiayuan Xue and Efrikiya Herlina, evening the score at 1-1 in the doubles portion of the match. A few minutes later, sophomore Nerma Caluk and senior Kaitlin Brozovich lost to Ohta and Nancy Karaky. The loss put Troy up 1-0 in the match.

“We saw that doubles are the most important point of the match,” said Nagode. “We came out tired at first, but we picked up the aggressiveness at the end. Next time, we need to be more aggressive in doubles. Tough loss.”

Down 1-0 heading into singles play, Veksler defeated Xue in straight sets, 6-1, 6-3, to even the match. Shortly after Veksler’s win, Lazaro defeated Karaky, 6-2, 6-4, to put the Panthers up 2-1. Nagode put FIU up 3-1 after beating Seizer in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3.

The Trojans tied the match at 3 when Brozovich and Caluk lost their singles matches, leaving the match between Orlando and Ohta as the final match of the afternoon. Ohta rallied back from a one set hole to beat Orlando, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5. Orlando’s seven unforced errors in her match allowed Ohta to come back from her deficit.

“Carlotta had the right game plan,” said Petrovic. “But, it looked like she was trying to rush in the second set and she got frustrated when things didn’t go her way.”

According to Petrovic, Orlando and Caluk were playing hurt during the match against the Trojans. Orlando was nursing a sore back and Caluk was coping with a sore wrist in the opener.

“[Tough losses] are part of the sport,” said Nagode. “We need to be more chemistry-oriented in doubles and come out more aggressive for the next one.”

Up next, the Panthers will travel to DeLand, Florida to take on both the Stetson University Hatters (1-1) and the Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats (0-2) from Feb. 6-7.

First serve against Stetson is set for Saturday, Feb. 6 at 2 pm in DeLand.

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