Women’s tennis drop matches against Tech

Taking care of leads is a vital part of all sports. Liberty University’s women’s tennis team fought hard against the Virginia Tech Hokies on Feb. 17 but failed to maintain their leads and close out matches as the fell 5-2.

Effort — Liberty fought hard against Virginia Tech. However, the Lady Hokies left with the win. Photo credit: Michael Johnson

“I can’t ask my players to fight any harder than they did tonight,” coach Chris Johnson said.

The Lady Flames fell in all three of the doubles matches despite having a lead in two of the matches.

Sophomore Jessie Boda and senior Carol Lobel raced out to a 5-2 lead in their No. 3 doubles match before squandering it away and losing 8-6. Sophomores Alexandra Sheeran and Rebekah Jenkins held a 5-4 lead in their No. 1 doubles match before falling 9-8.

In the No. 2 doubles match, sophomore Cameron Richard and freshman Nicola Wellman found themselves in a 6-1 deficit right off the bat.

They battled back to make the score 6-4 before losing steam and falling 8-4.

“Virginia Tech has some really good players, and we fought hard and gave ourselves a chance to win,” Johnson said. “And that is all I can ask from my players.”

The bright spots for the Lady Flames came from Wellman and Boda, who each won their singles matches. Wellman took the first set 6-4 but lost the second 3-6. “(Losing the second set) was tough mentally for me,” Wellman said. “I just had to tell myself ‘I’m not going to lose this match for my team.’” Wellman came back strong in the third set and won 6-4.

“I just knew that I needed to get one extra ball in each serve. In order to beat her I needed to try and get to everything. Every ball was mine.”

Boda earned her first collegiate dual win in her No. 6 singles match.

“It feels pretty amazing,” Boda said. “I just had to breathe between each game like my coaches told me to do.”

Boda did not expect to play but because of an ankle injury to freshman Brittany Yang, she was called upon to step in.

“I did not expect to play tonight but I want to thank my coaches for giving me the opportunity and I am just glad I could take advantage of it,” Boda said.

The No. 3 singles match featuring Jenkins against Virginia Tech senior Courtney Rauscher lasted a grueling three hours. Jenkins grabbed the first set 7-5 but dropped the second set 2-6. In the rubber match, third set, Jenkins held a 5-4 lead before she ran out of steam and fell 5-7.

“I just told my team to take the positives away from tonight. We are a young team and this is valuable experience for us heading into conference play next week,” Johnson said. “We schedule a match [against an opponent] like this so we can be used to playing a higher level of tennis.”

The Lady Flames will be on the road for their next six matches, beginning their Big South Conference schedule with a match Feb. 24 against Charleston Southern.

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