Liberty defeated North Texas 4-2, Tuesday in Hawaii.
The Liberty Lady Flames tennis team overcame an early deficit to take down the North Texas Mean Green 4-2, Tuesday in a neutral site contest at the UH Tennis Complex.
Liberty has now won three straight and bolsters its overall record to 7-4 on the season. The Lady Flames are 2-1 in neutral site matches in 2020. North Texas falls to 7-7 on the year and has dropped five straight.
After losing the doubles point for just the third time this season, Liberty rebounded in singles with four victories to clinch the match. Playing in her first singles match since the opening weekend of spring competition (Jan. 18), junior Grace Hashiguchi gave the Lady Flames the two-point win with her 6-4, 6-3 decision over Haruka Sasaki at No. 6 singles.
This is Liberty's first-ever victory over North Texas in what was the third meeting between the two schools.
Liberty 4, North Texas 2
Singles Competition 1. Kalani Soli (LIBERTYW) def. HECZEY, Alexandra (UNT) 6-3, 6-2 2. Alexandra Almborg (LIBERTYW) def. PONOMAREVA, Maria (UNT) 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 3. BADWY, Hala Khaled (UNT) def. Tiffany Nguyen (LIBERTYW) 6-2, 6-3 4. Esther Lovato (LIBERTYW) def. SURAPANENI, Nidhi (UNT) 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) 5. Caisey Lee Emery (LIBERTYW) vs. HUMMEL, Sophia (UNT) 7-5, 6-6 (1-1), unfinished 6. Grace Hashiguchi (LIBERTYW) def. SASAKI, Haruka (UNT) 6-4, 6-3
Doubles Competition 1. Kalani Soli/Eloise Saraty (LIBERTYW) def. HECZEY, Alexandra/BADWY, Hala Khaled (UNT) 6-1 2. SURAPANENI, Nidhi/PONOMAREVA, Maria (UNT) def. Tiffany Nguyen/Micaela Ode Mitre (LIBERTYW) 6-0 3. HUMMEL, Sophia/SASAKI, Haruka (UNT) def. Grace Hashiguchi/Caisey Lee Emery (LIBERTYW) 6-3
North Texas 7-7 Liberty 7-4 Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (3,1,2,4,6) T-2:40
Thoughts From Head Coach Jeff Maren "Our girls did an amazing job of maintaining focus and a fighting spirit throughout. North Texas is a great team – well-coached and great competitors – so this is a great win for us. I spent six years coaching at UNT, so I have great respect for Coach Lama and his team. This will surely help us to grow our confidence as we move forward."
How It Happened • North Texas won the doubles session with victories in the No. 2 and No. 3 matches. The Mean Green duo of Nidhi Surapeneni and Maria Ponomareva defeated Lady Flames freshmen Tiffany Nguyen and Micaela Ode Mitre 6-0 on court two, handing Liberty its first loss at No. 2 doubles all spring. The Lady Flames entered the match 10-0 at No. 2 doubles prior to the setback. • Liberty's top pairing, senior Kalani Soli and Eloise Saraty, bested Alexandra Heczey and Hala Khaled Badwy 6-1 in the No. 1 match. Soli and Saraty improved to 9-2 in spring doubles contests. • The doubles point came down to court three between Grace Hashiguchi and Caisey Lee Emery (Liberty) and Sophia Hummel and Haruka Sasaki (North Texas). With the match tied 3-3, the Mean Green tandem claimed the last three games and the match 6-3. • North Texas' lead grew to 2-0 after Badwy won against Nguyen in straight sets (6-2, 6-3) at flight three singles. • Liberty rallied and closed the match out by winning four straight matches. Soli remained unbeaten in spring No. 1 singles matches (9-0) with a 6-3, 6-2 result over her counterpart, Heczey. Lady Flames sophomore Alexandra Almborg, who rested during the doubles session, evened the match at 2-all following her 7-6 (3), 6-3 win versus Ponomareva on court two. • Liberty freshman Esther Lovato (No. 4 singles), who also sat out in doubles, needed a second-set tiebreaker victory to give the Lady Flames their first lead of the day. She topped Surapaneni 6-4, 7-6 (5) for a 3-2 Liberty lead. Lovato is the team leader with 18 singles victories on the season and sports a 9-2 spring singles mark. • Lady Flames junior Caisey Lee Emery (No. 5 singles) had a chance to close out her match with Hummel on court five and provide Liberty the overall win. Emery got past Hummel 7-5 in the first set and led 6-5 in the second set with three match point opportunities. Hummel staved off defeat and forced a tiebreaker. • While Emery and Hummel battled in a second set tiebreaker, the Lady Flames' Hashiguchi closed out her match with Sasaki, earning her first victory of spring competition in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3. Hashiguchi's win completed the Liberty comeback and brought the final score to 4-2. • Emery and Hummel's match went unfinished while the players were in a tiebreaker in set two. • This is Liberty's best 11-match start to a season (7-4) since the 2015 squad opened the year by winning nine of its first 11 matches. • Tuesday's contest was the Lady Flames' first-ever match in Hawaii.
Next Up • The Lady Flames will take on the Hawaii Rainbow Wahine (5-5), tomorrow. First serve is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. Eastern, 3:30 p.m. local time from the UH Tennis Complex. This will be the first meeting between the two programs.
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