FORT MEYERS, Fla. – Backed by a never-say-die attitude, the FGCU women’s tennis team tried to turn things around with powerful singles play, but fell just short of a comeback as it dropped 4-3 to FIU on Saturday afternoon at the FGCU Tennis Complex. The Eagles move to 2-3 on the season.
“We fought hard but dropped a close match today,” head coach Courtney Vernon said. “It came down to the end and we kept fighting. We will learn how to finish these close matches as the season progresses, but right now we need to focus on getting back in the game against Bethune-Cookman tomorrow.”
FIU found two quick wins to claim the doubles point, but the Eagles prevented them for taking all three matches as Johanna Sterkel (Schwetzingen, Germany/Carl-Theodor-Schule HS) and Bettina Botha (Cape Town, South Africa/De Kuilen HS) grabbed the victory in two doubles. Facing Aleksandra Trifunovic and Valentina Briceno, the Eagles fell behind 3-5, but were able to keep the two Panthers from registering another point as they scored four straight to win the match 7-5.
Posting the first point for the Green and Blue was Candela Munoz (Alicante, Spain/Troy) with a swift 6-0, 6-2, win over Briceno in No. 6 singles to knot the match at one each. Munoz remains a perfect 6-0 in singles play this season, the longest streak on the team.
Back-to-back singles wins by FIU in the four and five slot gave the Panthers a 3-1 lead, but the Green and Blue managed to say in the game as Breana Stampfli (Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago/St. Joseph’s Convent) claimed a victory over Nina Nagode in number two singles. Needing only two sets, Stampfli topped Nagode 6-2, 6-3.
With the score at 3-2 in favor of FIU, it was down to the wire as the remaining two matches both entered a third set. Only needing one more point, the Panthers found their match-clinching win in the three singles slot as Trifunovic trumped Sterkel. Sterkel won the first set 6-4, but Trifunovic flipped the digits in her favor in the second before going on to win the third set and the match 6-4, 4-6, 1-0 (10-3).
Although the Panthers had already won, the No. 1 singles match went on the finish as Sarah Means (Wesley Chapel, Fla./Wiregrass Ranch HS) downed Carlota Orlando. After falling behind 1-4 to start the first set, Means turned things around scoring five straight points to win it 6-4. The two stayed on serve in the second forcing extra points to be played, but Orlando came away with a 7-6 (5) win. The third-set tiebreak remained on serve, but as Orlando grew tired near the end Means dug deep to pull out a win at 11-9.
The Eagles will return tomorrow to host Bethune-Cookman at 1 p.m.
For complete coverage of FGCU women’s tennis follow us on Twitter at @FGCU_WTEN and visit www.FGCUAthletics.com where full recaps and results will be available at the end of each day.
Order of finish: 6, 4, 5, 2, 3, 1
1. Sarah Means def. Carlota Orlando 6-4, 6-7 (5), 1-0 (11-9)
2. Breana Stampfli def. Nina Nagode 6-2, 6-3
3. Aleksandra Trifunovic def. Johanna Sterkel 6-4, 4-6, 1-0 (10-3)
4. Tina Mohorcic def. Elizabeth Means 6-3, 6-2
5. Giulietta Boha def. Bettina Botha 6-4, 6-3
6. Candela Munoz Giron def. Valentina Briceno 6-0, 6-2
Order of finish: 3, 1, 2
1. Nagode/Mohorcic def. Means/Means 6-3
2. Sterkel/Botha def. Trifunovic/Briceno 7-5
3. Orlando/Boha def. Mandic/Stampfli 6-2