No. 27 SMU Women Fall Short Against No. 17 Ole Miss, 4-3

Mustangs are now 3-1 on the young season

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The No. 27 SMU Women’s Tennis team fought hard but ultimately fell to No. 17 Ole Miss on Sunday morning, 4-3, in the first round of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend at the Goodfriend Tennis Center on the campus of the University of Tennessee.

With the score knotted at three apiece, it came down to No. 3 singles as Heather Steinbauer and Caroline Rohde-Moe battled to see who would claim the victory for their team.

Rhode-Moe won the first set in a tiebreaker, 7-6(4) and not long after the Rebels had tied up the team score, she then outlasted Steinbaurer again to win the second set in a tiebreaker by the same score, 7-6(4), and give the Rebels the win.

The Mustangs began the match strong and grabbed the early advantage by taking the doubles point, which they had also done in their three previous matches. SMU claimed wins at Nos. 1 and 2.

The pair of Marta Lesniak and Aleksandra Malyarchikova defeated Rhode-Moe and Kristi Boxx, 8-3, at No. 1. Moments later, the tandem of Steinbauer and Edyta Cieplucha downed Connor Vogel and Gabby Ragel, 8-4, at No. 2 to clinch the doubles point.

Earlier, SMU’s No. 3 doubles team of Ashley Turpin and Shahzoda Hatamova fell to Abby Guthrie and Laura von Stroet, 8-1.

Ole Miss’ Vivian Vlaar squared the match during singles play with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Turpin at No. 6 singles. Malyarchikova then gave SMU the 2-1 lead, when she methodically took out van Stroet at No. 5, 7-5, 6-4.

In a matchup of two Top 25 players at the No. 1 line, No. 2 Lesniak dropped her first match in a dual meet this spring and just her fourth all season long to No. 21 Boxx, 6-4, 7-6(4) and the match stood even again at 2-2.

Moments later, SMU surged ahead to make it 3-2 when Hatamova finished off a 7-5, 6-4 win over Guthrie at No. 4 singles.

Vogel then responded to even things up for the third time. After Cieplucha took the first set 6-2, Vogel won the final two 6-3, 6-1 to set up Rohde-Moe’s clinching victory at No. 3.

“Today was just a tough, hard-fought match against a good team and unfortunately we came out on the wrong side of the decision,” said head coach Lauren Longbotham Meisner. “I am very proud of the girls for fighting until then end and it was an excellent effort by everyone. Ole Miss is a very good team and we will learn some things from this match that can help us in the long run. Now we just have to regroup and come back tomorrow ready to play.”

The Mustangs return to the Goodfriend Tennis Center courts tomorrow when they take on the loser of Sunday’s second match between No. 12 Tennessee and No. 33 Ohio State.

The 15 schools that win both of their matches this weekend will be invited to play in the Feb. 18-21 ITA National Team Indoor Championship hosted by the Univ. of Virginia at the Boar’s Head Sports Club.

No. 17 Ole Miss 4, No. 27 SMU 3
1. Lesniak/Malyarchikova (SMU) def. Boxx/Rohde-Moe (OM), 8-3
2. Steinbauer/Cieplucha def. Vogel/Rangel (OM), 8-4
3. Guthrie/van de Stroet (OM) def. Turpin/Hatamova, 8-1
order of finish: 3, 1, 2

1. No. 21 Kristi Boxx (OM) def. No. 2 Marta Lesniak (SMU), 6-4, 7-6(4)
2. No. 124 Connor Vogel (OM) def. Edyta Cieplucha (SMU) 2-6, 6-3, 6-1
3. Caroline Rohde-Moe (OM) def. Heather Steinbauer (SMU) 7-6(4), 7-6(4)
4. Shahzoda Hatamova (SMU) def. Abby Guthrie (OM) 7-5, 6-4
5. Aleksandra Malyarchikova (SMU) def. Laura van de Stroet (OM) 7-5, 6-4
6. Vivian Vlaar (OM) def. Ashley Turpin (SMU) 6-4, 6-2
Order of Finish: 6, 5, 1, 4, 2, 3

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