March 18, 2009
DALLAS, Texas – In a tough battle that came down to the final match, No. 28 TCU dropped a 4-3 decision to No. 24 SMU at the Turpin Tennis Center Wednesday. The Horned Frogs fall to 6-8 for the year, while the Mustangs advance to 18-2.
“It is great to see that SMU is having a nice season, they have a really nice program,” TCU head coach Jefferson Hammond said. “They have had some bad luck in the last two years with major injuries and they are making a real run right now and unfortunately we’re part of it.”
SMU took an early 1-0 lead in the match after sweeping the doubles action. The Frogs’ pairing of Maria Babanova and Gaby Mastromarino lost at No. 3 doubles at the hands of SMU’s Kseniia Tokarieva and Nicole Briceno by the score of 8-3. The Mustangs clinched the point on the second court, as No. 61 Natalia Bubien and Pavi Francis defeated the Purple and White team of Kayla Duncan and Katariina Tuohimaa, 8-3. TCU’s senior tandem of Macall Harkins and Anna Sydorska were tripped up by the 43rd-ranked duo of Marta Lesniak and Aleksandra Malyarchikova.
The Mustangs extended the lead to 2-0 in singles play, taking the first match to finish with Duncan falling to Malyarchikova from the No. 3 position in straight sets, 6-1, 6-1. The Winston-Salem, N.C. native competed from the third slot for the first time since defeating Paulina Bigos from Alabama on Feb. 28.
Mastromarino would cut the Mustang lead in half, handing Briceno a 7-5, 6-4 loss from the fourth court. The victory moved the freshman to 6-6 in singles play this season and moved the Horned Frogs into striking distance with the team score moving to 2-1.
Looking to tie the score, Tuohimaa dropped a tiebreaker in the first set and lost the momentum to capture the second set, falling 7-6 (6), 6-1 to Bubien. The match serves as the first loss for Tuohimaa when pushing an opponent into a tiebreaker in the one of the first two sets.
With the Frogs down 3-1, Harkins had the fate of the match on her shoulders, taking on No. 57 Lesniak from the top court. After splitting a pair of lopsided sets, the Palos Verdes, Calif., product found herself down 5-3 in the final stanza, but the 6-1 lefthander managed to swing the match in her favor and pull TCU to within one point of the lead with a 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 decision.
From the No. 5 position, sophomore Idunn Hertzberg felt the focus shift to her match against Francis. Despite dropping a tough first set, 7-5, the Oslo, Norway battled into a tiebreaker in the second frame and pushed the match to a third set. Like Harkins, Hertzberg found herself in an early hole, down 4-0. With the match hanging in the balance, Hertzberg hit her second wind and stormed to win the next six games to tie the match at 3-3 with a 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-4 victory.
With all eyes on court six, Babanova and Tokarieva exchanged volleys for three sets, knowing that the winner of their match would clinch a win for their respective team. After losing the first set, Babanova embraced the pressure and stole the second set, but failed to carry over her adrenaline into a third frame win, dropping the match by the score of 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.
“It was another close match that was exciting until the very end,” Hammond said. “We just came up short. We fought hard being down 3-1, and it looked like we had it at 3-3. It just slipped away. “
TCU will enjoy a nine-day layoff before opening Mountain West Conference play on the road against San Diego State and UNLV on March 27-28. The Frogs will return to the Bayard H. Friedman Tennis Center to host Baylor at 2 p.m. on March 31.
No. 24 SMU 4, No. 28 TCU 3
1. Lesniak/Malyarchikova (SMU) def. Harkins/Sydorska (TCU), 8-4
2. Bubien/Francis (SMU) def. Duncan/Tuohimaa (TCU), 8-3
3. Tokarieva/Briceno (SMU) def. Babanova/Mastromarino (TCU), 8-3
Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1
1. Harkins (TCU) def. No. 57 Lesniak (SMU), 6-2, 3-6, 7-5
2. Bubien (SMU) def. Tuohimaa (TCU), 7-6 (6) 6-1
3. Malyarchikova (SMU) def. Duncan (TCU), 6-1, 6-1
4. Mastromarino (TCU) def. Briceno (SMU), 7-5, 6-4
5. Hertzberg (TCU) def. Francis (SMU), 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-4
6. Tokarieva (SMU) def. Babanova (TCU), 6-2, 4-6, 6-4
Order of Finish: 3, 4, 2, 1, 5, 6