Despite starting the match down 1-0 before a ball was served, due to a couple injuries, the Oregon women’s tennis team overcame a depleted roster to defeat Loyola Marymount 5-2 Friday night, earning the first win of 2019 and of the Courtney Nagle era.
“We told them it’s not the size of the Duck roster, but the size of the heart in the Duck,” Nagle said. “I think the doubles helped a lot, that gave them the confidence going forward.”
Nagle, an All-American during her Oregon playing days, is now 1-0 in her return to her alma mater as head coach.
“It felt almost like I was going to play a match because I did warm up with one of the girls, so it kind of gave me that pre-match feel I used to get when I was a player,” Nagle said. “It’s a great feeling to be back and to get a win today. The girls were extremely tough.”
Overall, the Ducks took advantage seven of eight played matches. Oregon won both doubles matchups with Shweta Sangwan and Rifanty Kahfiani winning 7-6 (7-3), and Paiton Wagner and Allison Mulville winning 6-2. Both are first time pairings.
The Ducks also won four of the five singles matches: Kahfiani 6-1, 6-0; Mulville 6-2, 6-1; Wagner 6-3, 3-6, 3-2 (10-4) and Sangwan 6-2, 6-3. The lone loss came from Taryn Fujimori, a walk-on whose first practice with the team was yesterday.
Never one to back down, Sangwan overcame deficits in both doubles and singles to clinch the doubles point and then the match.
With both Julia Eshet and Daniela Nasser inactive for Oregon, the Ducks were forced to relinquish an advantage in doubles play, forfeiting a singles match due to only five active players.
Given the roster realignment, Wagner made her first career start in the No. 2 position, Kahfiani made her first career start in the No. 3 position and Mulville made her first career collegiate start.
Kahfiani was the first to finish, dominating Siobhan Anderson 6-1, 6-0. After sitting out fall season due to surgery, Kahfiani said she was focused on one thing, being present.
“To have her back after having a surgery is tremendous,” Nagle said. “We were not expecting her to come out the way she did today and last as long as she did. I’m so pleased with her progress.”
After playing the majority of her doubles matches last year with now-graduated Alyssa Tobita, Kahfiani was paired with Sangwan for the first time. Kahfiani played on the outside last season with Tobita, but this year has changed positions to better compliment Sangwan. The two fought back from a 3-5 deficit to clinch the doubles point.
“We feel like the chemistry is there,” Kahfiani said. “I like her, too, because she is aggressive from the baseline and also her energy is always positive. We fit well with each other.”
Mulville also broke into the win column. She won both her doubles and singles matches in blow outs.
“She was a little bit nervous,” Nagle said. “Your very first match being a dual match, there is a lot going on in the brain. She did a great job of locking in and focusing on attacking her opponent's weakness.”
The Ducks next play on Saturday, Jan. 26 in Malibu, California, against Denver.
Follow Maverick Pallack on Twitter @mavpallack