After a weekend off, Oregon women’s tennis returned to the court to face Idaho on Friday afternoon. The Ducks took the doubles point with relative ease with a 6-1 win from Daniela Nasser and Paiton Wagner and a 6-3 win from Allison Mulville and Julia Eshet. In singles, however, the Ducks fell behind early. Later, with the match tied 3-3, Rifanty Kahfiani dropped a hard fought battle to Laura Spataro 7-6, 6-4, which sealed a 4-3 victory for the Vandals.
Unfortunately for the Ducks, the match wasn’t today’s only loss. As doubles play concluded, Shweta Sangwan went down with an undisclosed back injury, halting play momentarily before ultimately forcing Oregon to forfeit her match.
“We will just meet as a coaching staff and go over those things and see what we need to do for the upcoming matches,” Coach Nagle said postgame when asked of the possibility of Sangwan missing extended time. “Again we’re just taking everything one day at a time.”
Luckily for the Ducks, as one player exited the rotation, another entered. Today’s match marked junior Julia Eshet’s first spring match. Eshet still has yet to compete in singles, but showed no signs of rust in doubles play. Her comeback could prove key for Oregon if Sangwan misses multiple matches.
“It was great to have her back and have her out on the court,” Nagle said. “She just brought a little bit of extra energy out there… There were some plays at the net that she executed that were just like what she would do back in the fall before she got sick and had her injury. Singles-wise, we’re taking her progress one day at a time, hopefully [she can return] in the near future.”
One of the lone bright spots in singles play for the Ducks was freshman Allison Mulville. Mulville took down Marta Magalhaes 6-0, 6-2, to deliver Oregon its first singles point of the day after Taryn Fujimori lost 6-0, 6-0. With the win, Mulville improved to 7-1 in dual play.
“She plays with a lot of confidence; she’s a very smart player,” Nagle said. “When she steps onto the court she really tries to figure out the opponents and she does a great job of exploiting their weaknesses and continuing to attack that. She carries herself with such poise on the court regardless of the score, you would never know if she’s winning or losing.”
Wagner was the only other Duck to win her match, defeating Anna Stefani 7-5, 6-0. On court three Daniela Nasser battled hard but ultimately fell 6-3, 6-4. Tied at 3-3 after Shweta's forfeit, the Ducks looked to Kahfiani to deliver them the win. After losing a back-and-forth first set, 7-6, the pressure ratcheted up as both teams looked on. Facing two point deficits on two occasions, Kahfiani did her best to climb back into the second set, but ultimately fell 6-4.
“You look at that match and they only played two sets, so the fact that match lasted so long shows you the kind of points that they were having...” Nagle said. “Always impressed with the way Rifa competes, she’s always working to get better. That’s a tough one to lose but she’s going to learn from it and when she gets in that situation again she will have the experience to back her up.”
For Kahfiani, that situation may come sooner than expected as the short-handed Ducks now look ahead to Sunday’s match against Kansas to get back on track.