The 30th-ranked Utah women’s tennis team went on the road to take on the Arizona schools over the weekend and returned with two losses, its first two true away losses of the season.
The first stop for the Utes was in Tucson to take on the No. 35 Wildcats. Despite having the higher ranking, Utah looked inferior in its matchup with Arizona, dropping the match 7-0.
“I feel like we ran into a team that was ranked below us at the time, and they had everything to play for and gain,” said head coach Mat Iandolo. “They played with a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of emotion. We played a little too tentative and way too defensive.”
Tereza Bekerova and Paige Miles were leading 7-6 in the No. 1 doubles slot against the Wildcats’ Kim Stubbe and Lauren Marker before the match was called because Arizona had already clinched the doubles point. Miles said losing that double point was just the beginning of a downward spiral for the Utes.
“We came out slow in the doubles, and after we lost the doubles point, I think some of us were discouraged,” Miles said. “They came out ready to fight, and I think they took us by surprise once singles hit.”
The fight against the Wildcats continued over to singles play, as every Ute player lost their respective match. Additionally, five of the six matches were decided in straight sets.
“According to Mat, they visibly wanted it more, and I’d have to agree with him,” Miles said.
Utah had to have a short memory as it traveled to Tempe to face the Sun Devils the following day.
The match against Arizona State started off on a positive note for Utah when the No. 2 doubles duo of Sarah Richter and Luisa da Rosa won their match, giving the Utes an early advantage for the doubles point. Unlike the match with Arizona, Bekerova and Miles got to finish their match in this one, securing the doubles point by winning the No. 1 slot, 8-7.
Regardless of gathering doubles point, Utah could not keep that lead as it dropped four singles matches, ultimately losing to the Sun Devils by a final score of 4-2. The lone win in singles play came in the No. 5 slot when Miles took down Arizona State’s Ebony Panoho in straight sets.
In the No. 1 singles slot, Bekerova and the Sun Devils’ Stephanie Vlad traded the first two sets, leading to a decisive third set. Unfortunately for the Utes, Bekerova was unable to finish on top in that final set, surrendering the point to Arizona State. Iandolo claims losing that point was crucial in the outcome of the entire match.
“Had we won the No. 1 singles, we probably would’ve won the match, because we were in control in the third singles match,” Iandolo said.
Senior Callie Craig was leading in that No. 3 singles position in the decisive third set when her match was called off after the Sun Devils secured the victory.
Despite dropping two straight matches, Iandolo believes Utah is in great shape to qualify for the NCAA Championships come May.
The Utes will next compete when they travel to No. 48 Washington this Sunday.