With six spring sports starting or preparing to play, Slippery Rock University women’s tennis (0-2) was the first team to dress for competition.
On February 27, sophomores Lois Page and his company headed south on I-79 to dust off their rackets for a game against Div. I Cleveland State University (1-4), ending the longest stretch of The Rocks between varsity competition since World War II. In all the excitement, SRU fell short of the Vikings, 6-1.
At the Pennsylvania Tennis Academy in Wexford, Pennsylvania, Cleveland State claimed the first team point in the evening after double triumphs in the first and third flights. Miruna Vasilescu and Klara Mrcela defeated Page and freshman Adriana Gonzalez Sanchez 6-0, before Selma Tounsi and Bethany Yauch brought down juniors Amy Varckette and Lauren Fadden 6-2.
The doubles segment of the match closes with a more inspired performance in the second flight. Senior Lacey Cohen and junior Olivia Warner fought a fight, but were barely beaten by Kateryna Avram and Blanche Lenoan, 7-5.
The Vikings won in the first five singles matches to take the team victory.
Page, a 2019-20 Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) All-American, performed in the top singles flight for Merediths squad, again beaten by Vasilescu, 6-1, 6-3.
Cleveland State continued to win in the second and sixth flights respectively, as Lenoan topped Gonzalez Sanchez (6-2, 6-2) and Avram defeated Fadden (6-2, 6-1).
On the fourth and fifth flights, Tounsi sent freshman Gabi del Val del Toro (6-2, 7-5) and Sian Payne turned off Warner (7-5, 6-1).
To end the evening, Cohen, a five-time All-PSAC West honoree and 2018 PSAC Singles Champion, was able to avoid her team being shut out by stealing a 10-5 decision from Yauch in the third flight tiebreaker. The win was Cohens 124th at Slippery Rock.
Eight days later, on March 7, Slippery Rock appeared to be recovering in its annual non-conference game against the Carnegie Mellon University Tartans (2-0). Back in Wexford, this time at the Oxford Athletic Club, the decision was the same as The Rock bowed to Carnegie Mellon, 4-3.
While SRU took a 3-1 advantage over the fifth-seeded team in Div. III, the Tartans recovered with three consecutive wins in singles.
The Rock scored the first point of the game with a pair of doubles wins from the third and first flights. Fadden and Varckette outperformed Megan Qiang and Victoria Tankova 8-1. Page and Gonzalez Sanchez followed and defeated Bin Zheng and Lindy Cornwall 8-5.
In the first flight of singles, Page scored another point and took her first win of the year when she outclassed Zheng (6-4, 6-3).
Abigail Khieu pulled the Tartans closer in the sixth flight, beating Varckette 6-0, 6-0. Gabi del Val del Toro pushed the lead back to a pair against Alex Lordache, 6-4, 1-6, 6-1.
It was Carnegie Mellon who grabbed the momentum and racked up wins in the next three games.
Lindy Cornwall outlasted Gonzalez Sanchez in the second flight, 6-1, 5-7, 7-5, and was followed by narrow victories in the fourth and fifth flights. Ola Wojciak dropped Warner 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 and Qiang pulled back to Fadden, 7-5, 6-7 (3-7), 6-2.
For her 2-0 try against Carnegie Mellon, Page was announced as the PSAC Wests Athlete of the Week on March 8. It was Page’s second time to have earned the honor and it adds to her collegiate resume that it also includes two All-PSAC West accolades.
The team is scheduled to open its conference competition at home against Edinboro University on Saturday.
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