After winning a season-best nine straight matches, the Cal State Northridge women’s tennis team fell to the No. 67 Loyola Marymount Lions in a 4-3 nail-biter on April 18 in Los Angeles.
“It was a good time for our team to play a tough match against another good team,” said head coach Gary Victor. “Even though we lost, we showed ourselves well.”
The Matadors (13-6) were unable to secure the all-important doubles point, which proved to be the difference in the match.
At the No. 1 position, senior YuYu Myinttun and junior Silvia Gutierrez lost 8-4, while the sophomore tandem of Kanykey Koichumanova and Canna Furuta dispatched Loyola’s Patrycia Hubl and Erin Ivey 8-6. With the victory, Koichumanova and Furuta improved to a team-best 14-4 in doubles.
The deciding match, however, came down to a tiebreaker between LMU’s Sladjana Kos and Maja Sundac versus sophomore Ana Matijasevic and junior Olga Yepremian, where the Lions prevailed in a close 9-8 victory.
With LMU securing the doubles point, CSUN would need to win four of the six singles matches to secure the overall victory. The Matadors managed to tie the match at three, but a late charge by No. 76 Pavla Mesterova to beat Gutierrez gave LMU the edge and the overall match victory. With the win, the Lions improved to 10-13 on the season.
In the No. 1 position, Gutierrez lost to Mesterova 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-4. Gutierrez’ singles record fell to 12-5 on the year. In the No. 2 slot, Koichumanova quickly routed LMU’s Robyn Baker 6-1, 6-2, improving her record to 13-6.
Koichumanova was named Big West Conference Women’s Tennis Athlete of the Week April 12 after completing a perfect record during the Matadors’ seven-match homestand.
She won both her matches last week against Wofford (April 5) and UC Riverside (April 8), both CSUN victories.
Against Wofford, Koichumanova defeated Tara Hartness 6-1, 6-3. Three days later against the Highlanders, Koichumanova came away with a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Yasaman Sakhakorn.
“She (Koichumanova) is really deserving of the accolade,” Victor said. “Kanykey is playing at an extremely high level and I feel like we have two No. 1 players on our team.”
During Koichumanova’s seven-match winning streak, she beat every opponent in straight sets and lost a total of only 18 games.
In the No. 3 position, Furuta (9-10) lost in straight sets to Kos 6-1, 6-2. In the No. 4 position, Matijasevic rallied to beat Hubl in straight sets 7-6(3), 6-3. With the victory, Matijasevic recorded her 15th victory of the season compared to just four losses. In the fifth spot, Myinttun (10-8) struggled against Sundac, falling 6-2, 6-0; while Yepremian rebounded from a second set loss to grab her ninth win of the season 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.
Prior to playing LMU, the Matadors traveled up north to Stockton, where they played their final conference game against Pacific. The team also played a non-conference game against UC Davis. CSUN emerged victorious over both teams, all the while demonstrating it could win a conference match away from home. The victory solidified CSUN in the fifth position going into the conference tournament in Indian Wells April 27-30. Possible first round match-ups include Cal Poly, UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine.
“We can play with just about anybody,” Victor said.
The Matadors’ last two games of the regular season will be at the Matador Tennis Complex April 21 against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at 2 p.m. and then April 22 versus UC San Diego at 11 a.m.
Matt Osias can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.