By Jenna Smith/Contributing Writer
Head coach Katrina Petrovic and the 2018 Panthers had a historic season, paving the way for future success throughout the program.
“We came through, it’s been tough the past few years playing Rice in two finals and one semi-final, and we finally managed to get the win,” said Petrovic.
Marina Veskler performed well coming into the final match of the Conference USA Women’s Tennis Championship and managed to finish on top.
Veskler was able to close out Fernanda Astete, earning the final point to clinch the Panthers’ first tennis conference title. The junior standout defeated Astete (6-4, 5-7, 6-1).
“We trusted Marina from the first point. After the doubles in the finals I saw it in her eyes that she really wanted it,” Petrovic said. “When she got to the third set, it was 4-1, and Marina took off from there. We knew it she was the right person to play the last match.”
While Veskeler will return for her senior year, Andrea Lazaro’s collegiate career will come to an end.
Lazaro has left her mark by advancing to the quarterfinals in the singles competition for the NCAA Division I Women’s National Championship.
“Andrea was like myself when I came to FIU, I had to build a program from zero,” said Petrovic.
Coach Petrovic knew from the beginning Lazaro could be seen as a top 10 player in the conference.
When both Coach Petrovic and Lazaro joined the FIU team, they struggled with winning matches.
“Our first-year record was 3-17, and that’s what I felt with Andrea, not winning first few matches, playing number five in the lineup,” Petrovic said.
The senior standout managed to sweep away big named schools such as Duke, Stanford and the University of Miami.
Lazaro’s collegiate journey ended after her loss to Ashley Lahey from Pepperdine in three sets (5-7, 7-5, 6-3) in the quarterfinals of the 2018 NCAA Division I Women’s Championship.
For the FIU Women’s Tennis team, expectations are higher than before. The women’s tennis team is officially ranked Top 10 in the nation for their 2018 recruiting class.