JOHNSON CITY — Facing a quick 1-0 deficit with a pair of doubles losses, ETSU’s women had a tough road ahead against Kennesaw State.
Looking to extend its home winning streak to 25 consecutive matches, the Lady Bucs had to oust a team whose top three singles players were undefeated in Atlantic Sun play.
ETSU senior Paula Jaime outlasted Vera Shukundina in the 1 spot, but remaining top of the Buc lineup was unable to follow suit losing in courts two, three and four — the latter two in three sets — in the squad’s first home loss since March 24, 2009 (vs. Winthrop) with the Lady Owls’ 4-3 victory Saturday evening at Buddy Hartsell Tennis Center.
“The Kennesaw team came a little hungrier than we were,” said ETSU coach Yaser Zaatini, whose team was coming off Friday’s 7-0 sweep of Mercer. “We started off very slow in the doubles. They took it to us and we never recovered, starting 1-0 down and their top three players were undefeated in conference play. To show up here, we had a tough task ahead.
“The bottom line is, if we don’t get everybody working together, we’re not going to be able to pull out matches like this because they’re extremely tough.”
Among the bright spots for ETSU was wins by No. 5 Diana Navrotsica, a 6-0, 6-1 victor over Therese Lagerkvist, and No. 6 Jessica Brumit.
Brumit, the former Elizabethton standout, continued her strong play on the singles side by delivering her fifth consecutive victory in Atlantic Sun play by making quick work of Tamara Plocher, 6-0, 6-1.
Jaime, who became the fifth-winningest female singles player in school history Friday night, delivered her 88th career victory in a 6-3, 6-2 decision over Shkundina, who was 5-0 in league play entering Saturday’s match.
“When you put the mind, the heart and the tennis together that’s what’s going to happen,” Zaatini said of Jaime’s win. “You’re going to beat good players and Paula has all of the tools.”
The match fell apart for ETSU following Giulia Andreazza’s 7-5, 7-5 setback to Alexandra Apostu in the No. 2 battle.
After dropping falling behind with a 6-0 setback, Marine Wieliczko evened things up in the No. 3 tilt with Virginie Stein to force a tiebreaker. Stein, however, held her own with a 6-4 third set to put the pressure on the fours.
Karina Kedzo outlasted Kennesaw’s Jana Hueckinghaus in a 7-6 opening frame, but Hueckinghaus rallied for a 7-6 decision of her own and had all of the momentum in her back entering the tiebreaker, sending ETSU to the loss column with a 6-0 final stanza to secure the win.
“Their number four player had not been clutch for them,” Zaatini added. “She had a lot of losses, but the last month or so she had turned it around. It happened to us and they got us. They had lost a lot of 4-3 matches and it was their turn to win.”
In doubles action, the teams of Apostu and Stein and Huekinghaus and Plocher picked up 8-6 decisions for the Lady Owls to secure the initial go-ahead point prior to singles play.
The Lady Bucs return to action at Appalachian State Friday with its final conference tilt Saturday at home against USC-Upstate.
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Kennesaw State 4, ETSU 3
1. Jaime (ETSU) def. Shkundina (KSU), 6-3, 6-2
2. Apostu (KSU) def. Andreazza (ETSU), 7-5, 7-5
3. Stein (KSU) def. Wieliczko (ETSU), 6-0, 5-7, 6-4
4. Hueckinghaus (KSU) def. Kedzo (ETSU), 6-7, 7-6, 6-0
5. Navrostska (ETSU) def. Lagerkvist (KSU), 6-0, 6-1
6. Brumit (ETSU) def. Plocher (KSU), 6-0, 6-1
1. Apostu/Stein (KSU) def. Jaime/ Wieliczko (ETSU), 8-6
2. Kedzo/Navrostka (ETSU) def. Shkundina/Lagerkvist (KSU), 8-0
3. Hueckinghaus/Plocher (KSU) def. Brumit/Andreazza (ETSU), 8-6