For the third time this season the Stetson women’s tennis team defeated an opponent that the Hatters had never topped before. This time Illinois State came in with a 2-0 record all-time against Stetson, but left with a 6-1 defeat as the Hatters improved to 9-1 on the season Tuesday at the Mandy Stoll Tennis Center.
“I am extremely pleased with the level of play today against an excellent Illinois State program,” Stetson Director of Tennis Pierre Pilote said. “Coach Hoover prepares his teams very well, and today was no different. To be able to win 6-1 against such a strong program with one of our top players out [sophomore Andrea Crespo] illustrates the depth of our team.”
Tuesday’s victory was Stetson’s ninth in a row after opening the season with a loss at 24th ranked Florida State. The streak ties the Hatters for the program record, also having won nine straight back in 1994.
Stetson started the day by prevailing in two out of three doubles matches to earn the first point of the contest, also for the ninth straight time. Senior Lindsey Cable and sophomore Eveline Lepinay improved to 7-1 in doubles with an 8-1 win at the number three position to get things going.
After senior Diana Bukajeva and freshman Isabella Fernandez fell at number one doubles for just the second time all year, sophomore Cari Berry and senior MayaBlue Stauffer-MacDowell won 8-5 at number two to secure the points for Stetson.
It was Lepinay again getting the Hatters out to a good start in singles play, winning 6-2, 6-1 at number six to extend Stetson’s lead to 2-0. Freshman Carolina Meregalli then won 6-4, 6-1 at number five to make it 3-0.
After cruising to a 6-2 win in set one at the number one position, Bukajeva fought to a 7-6 (7-4) victory in set two to earn Stetson its fourth point and clinch the match for the Hatters.
Illinois State’s Sierra Stone defeated Berry 6-2, 5-7, 1-0 (10-8) at number four, Fernandez won 6-1, 6-7 (4-7), 1-0 (10-4) at number two, and Stauffer-MacDowell came back to win 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 at number three to give Stetson the 6-1 triumph.
“I have no doubts that Cari would have prevailed if she could have played a full third set,” Pilote said in reference to the Hatters just missing out on another sweep. “She played great tennis coming back from a 0-4 deficit in the second set.”
Stetson will continue action this weekend with its first Atlantic Sun Conference matches of the year. The Hatters go on the road to take on USC Upstate on Friday, and then challenge ETSU on Saturday.
“This match was another opportunity for us to improve before our conference schedule begins, and I believe that we improved again today,” Pilote said. “We are exactly where we want to be before starting conference play. The team is confident and looking forward to the challenges ahead.”