After two hour delay, Oregon falls to Washington State in first home loss of the season
The Oregon women’s tennis match against Washington State was supposed to begin at 11 a.m., but instead of a battle between teams, a battle against Mother Nature began.
Grounds crew, athletic department employees and fans grabbed leaf blowers in an attempt to dry the outdoor courts, which were damp from rain and fog.
“We ended up just going up into our locker room and kinda focusing on our game plan and strategies for the day, kinda talking about what we wanted to come out and do,” Oregon head coach Alison Silverio said. “So we did have a little bit of a lull there before we took the courts.”
In a two-hour rush to dry the courts, the leaf blowers finally succeeded and the match began.
After Friday’s Pac-12 opener win over rival Washington, the Ducks couldn’t repeat that success, losing to Washington State 4-3. It was their first home loss of the season.
The Ducks came out and dominated doubles play with both No. 61 Shweta Sangwan and Julia Eshet and the pair of Alyssa Tobita and Rifanty Kahfiani winning their matches 6-1.
“I think we tried to keep the energy up and stuff,” senior Alyssa Tobita said. “Obviously we came out and just killed it in doubles.”
Singles play was a different story for Oregon with all six Ducks dropping their first game.
“This has never happened to us before,” Tobita said. “We just kind of tried to keep the energy up mostly. That was our focus. In doubles, I thought we came to a really fast start. Singles I felt like it was a little slow.”
After a couple of pleas from the coaching staff, the Ducks turned on the jets with five of the six Ducks either winning or tied after the first two hours of singles play.
“I think we did a good job in rebounding and coming back,” Silverio said, “but we need to do better after the doubles.”
Tobita’s match was the one to watch early on. She was matched against No. 49 Michaela Bayerlova.
Tobita has been challenged in the one position as of late, going 6-4 in her last 10 matches. But she was able to beat the higher ranked Bayerlova on Sunday, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.
“I’ve had a tough couple of weeks playing some ranked players,” Tobita said. “I have had a lot of three-set matches and none of them have really gone my way… It was nice to get the win today.”
With Eshet winning her match early 6-1, 6-3, the Ducks needed one more win from either Sangwan, Kahfiani or Nasser.
Sangwan became the last hope after the other two dropped their matches. She fought back and tied the match after being down 5-1 in the third set, but ultimately fell to Guzal Yusupova.
Silverio was happy with Sangwan’s effort and also liked the fight she saw from Kahfiani in the six position.
Kahfiani, a staple in doubles play, has not seen the court in singles play for a while. Her last result came against Georgia State on Feb. 3.
“The goal for [Kahfiani] was to battle, and she did,” Silverio said. “It was great to see her compete. As we make the bottom of our lineup stronger, our whole team is going to continue to get stronger.”
The Ducks will go on the road for their next match, after playing host for the last five. They’ll travel to South California to take on USC on Friday and UCLA Sunday.
Follow Maverick Pallack on Twitter @mavpallack
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