The CSUN women’s tennis team suffered its first two losses of the season this past weekend at the Matador Tennis Complex. On Saturday, Northridge fell to Furman University, 5-2, and on Sunday, lost to Rice University by the same score.
The Matadors, ranked No. 69 in the nation, dropped to 5-2 overall and 4-0 in the Big West Conference.
Furman (6-4, 0-0 Southern Conference) proved to be a tough match-up for the Matadors. Not only did Furman nearly defeat No. 18 Pepperdine on Friday, but Northridge didn’t have one of its best players for the singles portion. Junior Sandra Kukla, suffering from slight exhaustion, was only able to compete in doubles play.
“She has been a key component to our success,” CSUN head coach Gary Victor said. “It’s a long season and there will be days you feel great and days you don’t.”
In doubles play, the No. 1 team of junior Victoria Brymer and senior Canna Furuta lost to Laura Gioia and Natasa Manojlovic, 4-8. The No. 2 duo of senior Kanykey Koichumanova and freshman Brooke Doane defeated Lauren Osborne and Monica Arguello, 8-5. The No. 3 pairing of Kukla and freshman Nina Jaworowski fell to Jessica Preeg and Lauren Tomory.
In the top singles match, Gioia, ranked 53rd in the country, overpowered Brymer, 6-2, 6-0. Gioia was also coming off a defeat of Pepperdine’s Sylvia Kosakowski, the No. 72 ranked singles player in the country.
“She’s an unbelievable player,” Brymer said. “When people are playing that well, there’s not much you can do.”
Despite the loss, Brymer was proud of her performance.
“I think it was a lot closer than the score reflected,” she said. “Sometimes it’s just a bad match-up.”
In the No. 2 slot, Arguello slipped past Koichumanova, 7-6, 6-4. With Kukla not playing singles, Furuta moved up to No. 3. Victor said Furuta played some of her best tennis of the season, despite losing in straight sets to Osborne, 3-6, 3-6.
In the fourth match, sophomore Kristy Fournell lost the first set 4-6, but bounced back to win the second, 6-4. With an ailing lower back, Fournell lost the deciding set 3-6. The only other match to go three sets was the No. 5 meeting between Jaworowski and Tomory. Last weekend, Jaworowski was “unlucky” and lost in a three-set thriller to Pacific’s Kateryna Nezhura. This weekend, luck was on her side. She outdueled Tomory 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.
“I was so much more self- confident and coach did a great job,” Jaworowski said. “He was always pushing me.”
Even though she lost the first set, Jaworowski said she remained focused.
“It was 2-6, but I had no negative feelings,” she said. “I was playing great and I felt my shots.”
Doane was the only other Matador to win her singles match. In the No. 6 slot, she defeated Manojlovic, 6-4, 6-3.
Despite the team’s loss, Victor was happy with the performance.
“I am not disappointed,” Victor said. “We were going to lose eventually, and in a way, this takes a little pressure off.
On Sunday, Northridge played another tough out-of-conference opponent, Rice University (10-4, 0-0 Conference USA). The match was originally scheduled for March 3, but Rice’s head coach, Roger White, misread the time. White and Victor decided to play a day earlier so the athletes would not miss class.
The Matadors lost two of three doubles matches, and four of six singles meetings.
Again, Doane was the only Matador to win her singles and doubles matches. In the fifth singles slot, she beat Emily Braid, 6-2, 7-5. She teamed up with Koichumanova to defeat Tiffany Lee and Rebecca Lin, 8-6 in the No. 2 doubles match.
“I am very impressed by Brooke’s growth as a player,” Victor said. “She does not shy away from pushing herself out there.”
The No. 1 team of Brymer and Furuta fell to Julie Chao and Dominique Karas, 4-8. In the third slot, the duo of Fournell and Jaworowski lost to Braid and Varsha Shiva-Shankar.
“We came out flat,” Victor said. “For the first time, I was really disappointed with our doubles.”
Not only was the team feeling the effects from Saturday’s loss to Furman, but Northridge was again playing without Kukla.
In No. 1 singles, Brymer played her second consecutive match against a nationally-ranked player. Again, she was unsuccessful, losing to Chao, 0-6, 3-6.
For the first time this season, Koichumanova lost two straight singles matches. She fell to Lee, 4-6, 5-7 in the No. 2 slot. In the No. 4 match, Linn slipped past Fournell, 6-3, 7-6. The third set magic continued for Jaworowski. In the sixth position, she outlasted Shiva-Shankar, 7-6, 1-6, 10-6.
“Our effort was much better in singles,” Victor said. “We just came up short.”
Northridge hosts Georgia State at the Matador Tennis Complex today at 2 p.m.