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Lady Flames Edged by No. 72 East Carolina, 4-3
The Liberty Lady Flames tennis team went toe-to-toe with No. 72 East Carolina on Tuesday afternoon at the Hershey-Esbenshade tennis courts, but it was the Pirates who came away with a win in a see-saw contest, 4-3.
The loss snaps Liberty's four-match winning streak and evens up its season record at 6-6 (3-1 Big South). East Carolina moves to 9-5 on the year with the victory.
The Lady Flames began the day with a sweep of the three doubles matches. Brittany Yang and Jessie Boda collected their eighth consecutive doubles win, defeating Melis Tanik and Yilian Zhang, 8-3, in the No. 2 position. In the No. 1 spot, Liberty's Rebekah Jenkins and Nicola Wellman ousted Neena Wanko and Nicole LaDuca by the same score to secure a 1-0 lead for the home team.
Singles play started with a win for the Pirates in the No. 1 position. Wanko downed Richard 6-3, 6-1 to knot the contest at one apiece.
Wellman notched a victory in the No. 4 spot after Terpko had to bow out after two sets, giving Liberty a 2-1 lead with four matches remaining.
East Carolina tied the match once again thanks to a win by Wanko in the No. 2 position over Jenkins, 6-3, 6-1.
Annisha Domenech pulled the Lady Flames to within one point of clinching the match, with her third consecutive singles victory. The junior knocked off Abby Richmond in straight sets, 7-5, 6-1, in the No. 6 slot.
After LaDuca defeated Liberty's Thong, 7-5, 6-2, in the No. 5 position, the match came down to the No. 3 contest between Yang and the Pirates' Zhang. Yang claimed the first set 6-4 and jumped out to a 5-4 lead in the second. However, the Lady Flames' sophomore was unable to close out the match, as Zhang came back to take the second set, 7-5, and the third set, 6-4, to clinch the win for East Carolina.
"Both teams had to endure tough conditions today with the wind and ECU handled it a little better than we did," commented Liberty head coach Jeff Maren. "I don't believe that we will hang our heads after this match, but rather we'll see that we played very close with a ranked team and will use it to boost our confidence."
Liberty will take to the road for its next two matches. On Friday, the Lady Flames travel to face Winthrop at 1 p.m. before squaring off against Gardner-Webb at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.
No. 72 East Carolina 4, Liberty 3
1. Jenkins/Wellman (LU) def. Wanko/LaDuca (ECU), 8-3
2. Boda/Yang (LU) def. Tanik/Zhang (ECU), 8-3
3. Richard/Thong (LU) def. Terpko/Gray (ECU), 8-6
1. Wanko (ECU) def. Richard (LU), 6-3, 6-1
2. Tanik (ECU) def. Jenkins (LU), 6-3, 6-1
3. Zhang (ECU) def. Yang (LU), 4-6, 7-5, 6-4
4. Wellman (LU) def. Terpko (ECU) 0-6, 6-3, retired
5. LaDuca (ECU) def. Thong (LU), 7-5, 6-2
6. Domenech (LU) def. Richmond (ECU), 7-5, 6-1