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Lady Flames Clipped by No. 69 New Mexico, 4-3
The Liberty Lady Flames tennis team suffered its second consecutive narrow defeat on Friday, falling to No. 69 New Mexico, 4-3, in a neutral site match at North Texas' Waranch Tennis Complex.
With the loss, their fourth in a row, the Lady Flames' record drops to 7-6 overall and 0-4 versus current nationally ranked teams. The victory improves the Lobos' record to 9-5 overall.
New Mexco jumped out to a 1-0 advantage after tallying wins in the No. 1 and No. 2 doubles positions. Meredith Hopson and Natasha Smith defeated the Lady Flames' Brittany Yang and Belen Rivera, 8-2, before Misa Bezdickova and Lizette Blankers knocked off Liberty's Rebekah Jenkins and Maria Khval, 8-5. The No. 3 contest between the Lady Flames' Cameron Richard and Valerie Thong and the Lobos' Dominique Dulski and Emily Olivier was ruled unfinished with Liberty leading 7-6.
The Lobos extended their lead to 3-0 after collecting wins in the No. 4 and No. 1 singles positions. Smith ousted the Lady Flames' Mariely Hassey, 6-3, 6-2, while Bezdickova downed Jenkins, 6-2, 6-2.
Nicola Wellman put Liberty on the scoreboard with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Olivier in the No. 6 spot. The win improves Wellman's record to 7-4 this season.
New Mexico clinched the match with a triumph at No. 5, when Dulski beat Rivear, 6-4, 7-5.
The Lady Flames closed the contest strong, winning the final two matches. Yang and Khval each picked up their team-leading eighth victories of the season in the No. 3 and No. 2 positions, respectively. Yang came from behind to defeat Hopson, 2-6, 7-6 (2), 10-8, before Khval earned a win against Blankers, 6-1, 1-6, 10-4.
"We definitely improved from our last match, but we still need to work on our execution," state Liberty head coach Jeff Maren. "New Mexico is a great team and well coached, so I feel good about our overall performance against them. However, we still need to find a way to get over the hump with ranked teams. We're 0-4 now against this elite group and it's the ‘little things' that are going to help us get that breakthrough."
Liberty closes its spring break trip to Texas with a match versus No. 67 North Texas tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. (EDT).
No. 69 New Mexico 4, Liberty 3
1. Misa Bezdickova/Lizette Blankers (UNM) def. Rebekah Jenkins/Maria Khval (LU), 8-5
2. Meredith Hopson/Natasha Smith (UNM) def. Brittany Yang/Belen Rivera (LU), 8-2
3. Cameron Richard/Valerie Thong (LU) vs. Dominique Dulski/Emily Olivier (UNM), 7-6 DNF
1. Misa Bezdickova (UNM) def. Rebekah Jenkins (LU), 6-2, 6-2
2. Maria Khval (LU) def. Lizette Blankers (UNM), 6-1, 1-6, 1-0 (10-4)
3. Brittany Yang (LU) def. Meredith Hopson (UNM), 2-6, 7-6 (2), 1-0 (10-8)
4. Natasha Smith (UNM) def. Mariely Hassey (LU), 6-3, 6-2
5. Dominique Dulski (UNM) def. Belen Rivera (LU), 6-4, 7-5
6. Nicola Wellman (LU) def. Emily Olivier (UNM), 6-4, 6-2