FORT MYERS, Fla. – In another dual match that came right down to the finish, the FGCU (5-3) women’s tennis team came up short against Penn, 4-3, on Friday afternoon at the FGCU Tennis Complex.
“This was an old fashioned dual (match) tonight and it came down to Elizabeth’s court. She fought so hard and to see the team rally and come back to 3-3 after dropping the doubles point was tremendous, FGCU head coach Jennifer Gabou. “This team is showing they want it by their competitive fight. Even though we lost I am proud of the heart they showed today.”
Just three days after a match that lasted over four hours and resulted in a 4-3 victory for FGCU over Ball State, the Green and Blue found themselves in another marathon match, this time with a 7-2 Penn squad.
Coming into the match, Penn was 2-0 in the state of Florida with wins over James Madison and Stetson with the wins having come on March 3 and March 4 respectively. The victory over the Eagles gave the Quakers a perfect record on their three-game Florida road trip.
Junior Bettina Botha (Cape Town, South Africa/De Kuilen HS), who had a dual match clinching singles victory on March 6 against Ball State, rounded out the FGCU singles rotation in the six spot and won her match in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 for the first Eagle victory of the afternoon.
Junior Gyanna Mandic (Oshowa, Canada/Edison Academies) picked up point number three for the Eagles with a three-set, 6-1, 4-6, 6-0, victory in the second spot to bring the dual match score to within one, 3-2 in favor of visiting Penn.
“Gyanna is really coming into her full potential this season. To see her mature into her ability is very rewarding and it was a great win for her today,” Gabou explained.
After dropping the first set of her singles match 6-3, FGCU senior Morgan Bechtel (Toldedo, Ohio/St. Ursula Academy) rebounded to win the next two sets in decisive fashion by scores of 6-1 and 6-4 to give the Green and Blue its third victory of the day and bring the dual match decision down to the final court.
“Morgan brought her trademark grittiness today and pulled out a big win,” said coach Gabou. “From her days as a walk-on to our team leader, she has proved so much.”
The dual match came down to freshman Elizabeth Means (Wesley Chapel, Fla./Wiregrass Ranch HS) in the fifth singles position, but was unable to capture a victory despite having won the first set. Means dropped the singles match 5-7, 6-1, 6-3 and FGCU lost the dual match 4-3.
The Green and Blue will have six days off before their next match, which will also be their A-Sun opener, as they are set to take on Lipscomb at the FGCU Tennis Complex on Thursday, March 14 at 2 p.m. Admission to the match at the FGCU Tennis Complex is free.
Following the match, results and a recap from the dual match action will be available at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com.
Penn 4, FGCU 3
Order of Finish: (6, 3, 1, 2, 4, 5)
1. Eskenazi (Penn) def. S. Means (FGCU) – 6-2, 7-5
2. Mandic (FGCU) def. Do (Penn) – 6-1, 4-6, 6-0
3. Latycheva (Penn) def. Sterkel (FGCU) – 6-2, 6-4
4. Bechtel (FGCU) def. Raghavan (Penn) – 3-6, 6-1, 6-4
5. Ion (Penn) def. E. Means (FGCU) – 5-7, 6-1, 6-3
6. Botha (FGCU) def. Whitfield (Penn) – 6-4, 6-4
Order of Finish: (1, 2)
1. Eskenazi/Latycheva (Penn) def. Bechtel/Botha (FGCU) – 8-1
2. Rodin/Yapp-Shing (Penn) def. Mandic/Sterkel (FGCU) – 8-6
3. E. Means/S. Means (FGCU) vs. Do/Ion (Penn) – DNF