The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

Got a tip? Have something you need to tell us? Contact us

Loading Recent Classifieds...

Women’s tennis falls to Washington State in grueling match

Edward Segal
Head Coach Gary Victor (right) talks to the team after their loss to Washington State on March 22 in Northridge, Calif.

The last two games for CSUN women’s tennis were the embodiment of March Madness.

First, CSUN took on Cal Poly, a match in which they were down 3-0 before they came back to win.

The Matadors (6-2, 2-0 Big West Conference) had about two weeks off since the miraculous victory, and faced Washington State (10-5, 1-3 PAC-12) in the fourth and final game of their homestand Friday afternoon.

In attendance was Matador alumna Birgit Frankenberg, who came from Germany and played for CSUN women’s tennis in 1998. She later co-founded a company that specializes in business consulting. After watching the match, she said the sport changed a lot from when she donned the Matadors’ uniform.

“It’s definitely evolved over the years,” Frankenberg said. “It got much faster, more physical.”

Elena Goodman (top left) and Angela Ho (top right) compete in their doubles match against Hania Abouelsaad and Martina Markov (bottom) of Washington State on March 22 in Northridge, Calif. (Edward Segal)

She mentioned how intense this match was specifically. In fact, the Cougars would prove to be one of the toughest opponents the Matadors have faced this season.

Head Coach Gary Victor said he looks up to the women’s tennis program at Washington State and has tremendous respect for it.

“Washington State is a class program,” Victor said. “They play fair, they play right. It’s all about the tennis. I have total respect for Washington State. I think they are a model program that is as good a program as we’ve seen.”

CSUN kicked things off against the Cougars in doubles, where Matador veterans Victoria Santibañez Luna and Cindy Ung were able to take down their opponents 6-2, while Yuliia Zhytelna and Sasha Turchak couldn’t stop the red hot combination of Eva Alvarez Sande and Elyse Tse. The Cougars’ duo won and improved to 10-2 on the season.

Sophomore Angela Ho and freshman Elena Goodman went down to the wire in their doubles match. The contest went back and forth as the teams traded games. The Matadors found themselves down 6-5, needing to win the next game to force a tiebreaker. Goodman and Ho got it done, and went into the final game to play for the doubles point.

Hania Abouelsaad and Martina Markov took an early lead, and the Matadors had to continue playing from behind. The Cougars built a 4-2 advantage, needing three more points to secure the doubles victory. But when the players switched sides, the tide shifted.

On the other side of the net, CSUN scored four straight points to put themselves one away from victory. All of the other Matadors cheered from the sidelines as Goodman and Ho scored point after point.

The Matadors watch expectantly as Elena Goodman and Angela Ho battle in their doubles match against Washington State University on March 22 in Northridge, Calif. (Edward Segal)

Just when it looked like CSUN had doubles in the bag, Washington State came right back and tied it up, setting up a win-by-two scenario. Before the Matadors could respond, the Cougars scored two more points and won the match.

After the heartbreaking defeat, Ho and Goodman had to go right into their singles matches.

This is where the madness began.

CSUN’s one and two, Turchak and Zhytelna, continued to struggle against Alvarez Sande and Tse. Turchak lost the first set 6-2 and battled through a number of close games in the second set. While she was trying to come back, Zhytelna was looking to take her first set. Up 5-2, she blew her lead and fell behind.

While they played their second set, things started looking good for the Matadors on court three. Santibañez Luna was taking on Yura Nakagawa, and took the first set 6-2. But her opponent won the second set by the same score to set up a tiebreaker.

“I think I was ready for a hard match,” Santibañez Luna said. “I mean, the whole week I was kind of mentally preparing for it. So I feel like that’s why my first set went really well. And then by the second set, I don’t know, I feel like I got a little too comfortable. Things can go either way pretty fast if you don’t focus.”

Those three matches were pivotal for the Matadors as on courts four and five, sophomores Emma Moratalla Sanz and Ho were struggling. Sanz, who didn’t play in doubles, tried to use her freshness to her advantage in a first set that needed an extra game. Fifa Kumhom, who is now 19-4 in singles over the past year, proved to be hungrier as she took the first set and never looked back.

Ho wasn’t the same after her doubles match. Battling through illness, the Matadors’ rising star wasn’t feeling 100 percent, and her opponent, Hania Abouelsaad, took full advantage. She won the first set 6-1, causing Ho to slip and slide on several occasions. At least three times, Ho would wind up falling to the ground in the match. Abouelsaad won the second set 6-2 to give Washington State another victory.

Elena Goodman serving on court six in her singles match against Martina Markov of Washington State on March 22 in Northridge, Calif. Goodman won 10 games in a row en route to victory in her singles debut for the Matadors.

With their backs against the wall, the Matadors needed a victory.

On court six, Goodman was making her singles debut for the Matadors. After losing a back-and-forth doubles match, she fell behind 5-2 in singles. The Matadors were on the verge of being swept, but something clicked in Goodman’s game. She proceeded to win five straight games and take the first set, before opening up a 5-0 lead in the second.

“I just really wanted it,” Goodman said. “You know, this is like a big match for me. So I just, you know, just thought about how much I worked to be here and how much I deserve to be here. And my mind just kind of cleared itself up.”

10 straight games won is what CSUN needed to try and climb back into the match. Goodman earned the Matadors their first point after splitting the last two games of her match, making the overall score 2-1.

Unfortunately for CSUN, Turchak wasn’t able to tie her match, dropping the second set after forcing an extra game. The Matadors found themselves down 3-1 with three matches left.

Santibañez Luna forced a third set but fell behind 3-0. In the fourth game, she fell to the ground, needing a breather as she battled a cramp. When she got back onto the court, she took a game, but it was the last one she’d win. With her 6-1 loss, the Matadors could no longer come back and tie the match.

Santibañez Luna said the emotions of the match kept her from playing her best game.

“I got really tired and when I get really tired, I start cramping and when my nerves come in, I start cramping too,” the redshirt senior from Mexico said. “So both things didn’t help by the third set. I was emotionally tired and physically tired and yeah, she outplayed me.”

Victoria Santibañez Luna gets ready for battle in her singles match against Yura Nakagawa of Washington State on March 22 in Northridge, Calif.

Zhytelna’s match remained unfinished with her trailing 5-3 in the second set, as did Moratalla Sanz’ match, where she trailed 5-2.

The frustration was etched on all the Matadors’ faces throughout the day. Frankenberg said she understood what it was like to be in a match like that, and mentioned the importance of not letting the emotions take over.

“[You have to] stay calm in some of those tight situations because you’re losing just a lot of energy,” Frankenberg said. “…I know it’s super difficult to really do that during such a match when you are that young. I was also very emotional on the court, so I totally feel for them, but that’s probably one of the keys is to stay calm in those tight situations.”

Victor spent more than 30 minutes lecturing the team about the importance of keeping their emotions in check. He said this dual taught them a lesson they needed to learn.

“I felt like in some key moments, we lost our minds in certain spots and we’re not gonna have that again,” Victor said. “The discipline in that instance has to be better and that’s what we talked about. It’s not acceptable.”

The Matadors traveled to UC Irvine Sunday, and will host Chaminade University and Westmont College in a doubleheader Tuesday.

More to Discover