TAMPA, Fla. – Despite taking two out of three doubles matches, the Saint Leo women’s tennis team (1-6) fell to the University of Tampa Spartans (1-4) 6-3, from the UT Tennis Complex, Wednesday afternoon in non-conference action.
Early, the Lions No. 1 doubles tandem of Jeanette McDonald and Shaena Keefe bumped the Tampa duo of Kourtney Stark and Megan Mancini, 8-5. The two teams exchanged points, but it was Saint Leo who found the momentum towards the end to pull away.
Gina Schifano and Christine Clyne also participated in a close battle at No. 2 doubles. Unfortunately, the pair could not answer the Tampa challenge late in the match as Molly Welsh and Nikol Williams excelled for the clinching ninth point.
It was another 9-7 final at No. 3 doubles as the Lions’ Chloe Andersson and Hannah Beard never allowed Tampa’s challengers to pull in front. With an 8-7 lead, the Saint Leo couple slammed home the final point, giving them the two-point advantage and win.
With a 2-1 lead going into singles, it appeared as if the Lions could had a good start on the Spartans. However, UT proceeded to take five out of the six singles matches to claim their first win of the season.
Each of the matches proved to be close, however. McDonald lost a three-set heartbreaker at No.1 singles. She opened the match with a 6-3 win. The Spring Hill, Fla. native followed that with a 6-1 loss, forcing a deciding third set. In the set, McDonald and Stark exchanged points, eventually pulling even at six points apiece and forcing a tiebreaker. In the deciding point, the Lions No. 1 quickly fell behind and could not regroup, losing the tiebreaker, 2-0, and the set, 7-6.
Keefe followed with an impressive straight-sets defeat of Williams at No.2 doubles, posting scores of 6-0, 6-2. Schifano was edged in straight sets, dropping the first set 6-4, and the second set in a tiebreaker, 7-6 (1-0).
Following Anderson’s straight sets defeat at No. 4 singles, Clyne fought for the Lions at the No. 5 spot. Her effort was not enough though, as she dropped her match in consecutive sets, 6-4, 6-1.
Even Hannah Beard got in on the action at No. 6 singles. It appeared Beard was on her way to giving the Lions a pivotal point with an opening 6-2, set one win. But it was not to be; as Ryan raced back to take sets two and three by the scores of 6-3 and 6-2.
“It was a tough match” Head Coach James Bryce stated. “We fought as hard as we could for every point but we didn’t get any of the breaks.” He continued, “We need to continue working hard and come out against Barry on top of our game.”
The Lions must now turn their attention to the Barry Buccaneers, as they look to snap their five-match losing streak. First serve for the women’s conference contest is set for 3:00 p.m. at the SLU Tennis Center.