Panthers win final home match on senior day

Reinaldo Llerena/ Staff Writer

The No. 49-ranked women’s tennis team said goodbye to two seniors with a comeback win Sunday, March 28, at the FIU Tennis Courts.

The Panthers (14-2) honored seniors Kaitlin Brozovich and Carlotta Orlando before Sunday’s, March 28, match versus Brown University. The match was the final home game for the two Panthers.

“Throughout my four years here, I’ve had a great experience with this team,” said Orlando. “I’m excited for what’s coming. Tennis will always be a part of my life.”

Heading into the match, the Panthers remained undefeated when winning the doubles point. The team also jumped from No. 57 to No. 49 on the ITA/Oracle rankings. If the season were to end now, the Panthers would be the No. 1 seed in the C-USA tournament.

For the Panthers to clinch the No. 1 seed, they need to win out the rest of the season.

The Bears took the doubles point, claiming the first two matches. Sophomore Nerma Caluk and Brozovich lost to Maddie Stearns and Ammu Mandalap, 6-2. Orlando and redshirt freshman Andrea Lazaro fell to Hannah Camhi and Katie Ta, 6-4, to give Brown the point.

“We were nervous in doubles,” said head coach Katarina Petrovic. “After doubles I reminded them of their game plan. It was a very important match for both us and the seniors. I didn’t want the match to get away from us.”

The Panthers would come back and take four-straight singles matches to clinch the match.

Lazaro clinched the Panthers’ first point, quickly defeating Camhi, 6-2, 6-0, tying the match. Lazaro remains undefeated in dual matches. The redshirt freshman has won all 14 of her dual matches this season.

Junior Nina Nagode put the Panthers ahead, 2-1, with a 6-0, 6-3 win over No. 94 Alyza Benotto. The win was Nagode’s 20th of the season.

Caluk finished her match minutes after Nagode. The sophomore won in straight sets, defeating Ta, 6-2, 6-1, extending the Panther lead to 3-1. Caluk’s victory improved the sophomore to 25-5 on the season and 13-2 in dual action.

Freshman Maryna Veksler clinched the match for the Panthers, defeating Dayna Lord, 6-4, 6-2. Veksler’s win improved her singles record to 25-7 on the season and 10-3 in dual matches.

However, the two seniors remained playing.

Brozovich fell in her final match to Mariska Chamdani, 7-6 (4), 6-0.

Orlando finished off the match with a comeback win in the final set over Stearns. The senior came back from a one-set deficit and won in a tiebreaker, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (3), giving the Panthers a 5-2 win over the Bears.

After the match, Brozovich was given a Gatorade ice bath, Orlando ducked and did not get hit by the freezing liquid.

“It didn’t hit me until now that it was my final home game,” said Brozovich, still dripping from the ice bath. “I wanted to win my final match so badly. I kept pushing and stayed positive, but it didn’t work out.”

The season wraps up this coming weekend as the Panthers face the University of Central Florida Knights and the University of Alabama at Birmingham Blazers in Orlando. The Panthers will face the Knights on Friday, April 1, and play the Blazers on Saturday, April 2, to close out the season.

First serve against the Knights is set for 2 p.m.

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