Kazimieruk, Fraser highlight afternoon for Cougars
HOUSTON – The University of Houston women’s tennis team fell just shy of an upset on Sunday afternoon, dropping a hard-fought 5-2 decision to No. 44 William and Mary in windy conditions at the Houston Country Club.
The Cougars fell to a ranked team for the second-straight match to drop to 12-6overall this season, while the Tribe improved to 13-4 on the spring.
“It might sound strange to say this after a loss, but this is the most proud I have been after any match this season,” head coach Patrick Sullivan said. “We couldn’t quite get it done, but our team finally understands how to compete correctly and we gave a William & Mary squad that was in the top 25 a couple of weeks ago all they could handle. It’s going to happen for us, we are right around the corner. The entire team is excited about finishing the season strong.
“I am especially proud of Celia (Fraser) and Maja (Kazimieruk) who are steamrolling people in both singles and doubles and providing great veteran leadership for us,” Sullivan continued. “Neither one of them have traditionally been good doubles players and I joked with them today about how just a few months ago I was trying to find ways to keep them out of the doubles lineup. It’s a realtestament to their character how they now, late in their college careers, have been willing to go outside their comfort zone and are now our most steady pair.”
After William and Mary’s fifth-ranked duo of Belaya and Loomans posted an 8-5 victory over Houston’s Rocio Martin Fernandez and Charlotte Phillips at the top position, Fraser and Kazimieruk evened the score with an 8-4 win over Nemchinov and Smith, marking the tandem’s 12th-straight victory to improve to 14-2 on the spring.
With the doubles action deadlocked, the attention turned to court No. 2 where Houston’s Elena Kordolaimi and Jo Garvey erased a 5-2 deficit to tie the match at 7-7. The Cougar duo dropped a marathon game to go up one in the match in an eventual 9-7 loss as the Tribe claimed the opening point.
After aWilliam & Mary straight-sets victory at the top singles position, Kazimieruk put Houston on the board with a 6-3, 6-2 triumph over Anik Cepeda at the No. 4 spot for her sixth-straight win to increase her team-best record to 16-2.
The Tribe pushed its lead to 3-1 with a win at court No. 3 before the Cougars began applying pressure.
Needing three more singles wins for the upset, Dionne Sanders bounced back from a 6-1 loss in the first set with a 6-2 victory in the second frame to force a decisive third set, and Fraser jumped out to a 4-0 advantage in the third set at court No. 2.
Phillips battled back from a 6-2 first-set loss to force a second-set tiebreaker, where she led 4-1 before eventually falling 7-5 as William & Mary clinched the match.
Fraser would go on to post a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 defeat of Leeza Nemchinov to become thefifth Cougar to post double-double singles wins this season with a 10-7 mark.
The Cougars return to action at 2 p.m., on April 3 against Southeastern Louisiana at John E. Hoff Courts.
#44 William & Mary 5, Houston 2
1. #5 Belaya/Loomans (W&M) def. Phillips/Martin Fernandez (UH), 8-5
2. Cepeda/Johnson (W&M) def. Kordolaimi/Garvey (UH), 9-7
3. Fraser/Kazimieruk (UH) def. Nemchinov/Smith (W&M), 8-4
Order of Finish: 1,3,2*
1. Maria Belaya (W&M) def. Elena Kordolaimi (UH), 6-2, 6-2
2. Celia Fraser (UH) def. Leeza Nemchinov (W&M), 6-4, 4-6, 6-4
3. Jeltje Loomans (W&M) def. Rocio Martin Fernandez (UH), 6-3, 6-3
4. Maja Kazimieruk (UH) def. Anik Cepeda (W&M), 6-3, 6-2
5. Hope Johnson (W&M) def. Charlotte Phillips (UH), 6-2, 7-6(5)
6. SydneySmith (W&M) def. Dionne Sanders (UH), 6-1, 2-6, 7-5
Order of Finish: 1,4,3,5*,2,6