Reinaldo Llerena/ Staff Writer
The No. 48-ranked women’s tennis team won its eighth-straight match during the weekend of March 4-6 in Huntington, West Virginia.
The Panthers (9-1) defeated Conference USA rival Marshall, 4-3, Friday, March 4, and beat Virginia Commonwealth University, 6-1, Saturday, March 5.
”Doubles are important,” said freshman Maryna Veksler after the Feb. 28 win against UT Arlington. “Since you don’t warm up before matches, you need time to feel out your opponent and also helping out your teammate. When your opponent wears out, then you push on. It’s all about energy.”
The Panthers have not lost a match since their home opener in January, when they fell to Troy University, 4-3. With the wins over VCU and Marshall, the Panthers improve to 7-0 in matches away from the FIU Tennis Courts extended the win streak to eight games, the team’s longest since 2011, when the program won nine-straight matches.
“Marshall is going to be a tough match for us,” said junior Nina Nagode after the match against UT Arlington. “They are a really good team. We need to come out aggressive and stick to the same game plan we’ve had all season.”
Marshall would prove Nagode right and did not make it easy for the Panthers as they claimed the doubles point.
The Panther’s only win during doubles play came when senior Carlotta Orlando and redshirt freshman Andrea Lazaro defeated Anna Pomyatinskaya and Marija Bogicevic, 6-3.
The Panthers would come back against Marshall in singles play.
Lazaro tied the match for the Panthers when she defeated Maddie Silver in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2. Sophomore Nerma Caluk put the Panthers ahead when she defeated Bogicevic, 6-2, 6-4, her twentieth win of the season.
Orlando and senior Kaitlin Brozovich clinched the match for the Panthers. Orlando defeated Pomyatinskaya, 6-4, 2-6, 6-1, and Brozovich claimed the final point for FIU. The senior defeated Anne Gulsrud in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2.
Veksler had her nine-match winning streak snapped when she lost to No. 97 Derya Turhan in a tiebreak. Nagode lost to Rachael Morales, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, to give the Herd their third and final point of the match.
The match against the VCU Rams would go a lot smoother than the match against the Marshall Herd did.
The Panthers returned to their form, claiming the doubles point against the Rams. Veksler and Nagode defeated Olga Barshcheuskaya and Sofia Segerfors, 6-1. Caluk and Brozovich defeated Yana Morar and Magda Aubets, 6-2, to claim the point.
In singles play, the Panthers won five out of the six matches to win the match 6-1. Caluk notched her eighth-consecutive singles win when she defeated Morar, 7-5, 6-0. Orlando picked up another win, defeating Darya Berezhnaya in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2.
Lazaro came back from a one-set deficit to win against Jania Braun, 1-6, 6-2, 6-1, and Veksler rebounded from her loss the day before. The freshman defeated Barshcheuskaya in straight sets, 6-1, 6-1.
The Panthers will return home Tuesday, March 8, to play against Butler University. First serve from the FIU Tennis Courts is set for noon.