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Lady Flames Nearly Knock off No. 46 UCF, Lose 4-3

February 25, 2017  Orlando, Fla.  RSS
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Liberty seniors Mariely Hassey (left) and Emily Groeneveld (right) won together in doubles and both won their singles matches, Saturday at No. 46 UCF.

Liberty seniors Mariely Hassey (left) and Emily Groeneveld (right) won together in doubles and both won their singles matches, Saturday at No. 46 UCF.

The deciding point of the women's tennis match on Saturday between Liberty and host No. 46 UCF proved to be the first point of the day. The two teams split six singles matches, but it was the Knights who narrowly prevailed in doubles to take the match from the Lady Flames, 4-3, at the USTA National Campus.

Liberty's record drops to 5-5, this spring, with the loss, while UCF improves to 10-1 on the season.

"I feel like we are so close to beating these excellent teams. It comes down to the details," said Liberty head coach Jeff Maren. "I'm encouraged, but at the same time, I see where we need improvement."

The Lady Flames' No. 3 pairing of seniors Mariely Hassey and Emily Groeneveld defeated the Knights' Nicole Jimenez and Elizabeth Bagerbaseh, 6-3, to bring the team halfway to earning the doubles point. The seniors won 56 percent (30-of-54) of the points in the match, highlighted by 67 percent (10-of-15) first-serve points.

Trailing 4-2 in their match, UCF's No. 2 tandem of Emilia Granstrom and Natalia Serrano seized the final four games to knock off Liberty's pairing of sophomore Anna Dollar and junior Evangeline Crist, 6-4. The Knights' team won 30 of the 54 points (56 percent) in the match and 72 percent (13-of-18) of first-serve points.

The Lady Flames' No. 1 unit of Rebekah Anderson and Aleksandra Panchenko also led their match, 4-2, over Cortney Cesarini and Monica Matias. The Knights' pairing closed out the match impressively, taking five of the next six games to prevail, 7-5, and capture the first point of the match.

The shortest match of the day went to UCF's Cortney Cesarini, who bested Liberty freshman Eugenia Camacho in straight sets (6-1, 6-1) in the No. 4 match to give the home side a 2-0 edge.

Groeneveld played some of her best tennis of the year in the No. 6 singles match versus Jimenez, winning 6-0, 6-1, to give her team its first point of the day. However, the host Knights picked up their third point of the day on a straight-sets win from Matias (6-1, 6-4) over Dollar. Matias' triumph brought UCF close to victory at 3-1.

Serrano needed two sets to take down Anderson, 6-1, 6-3, and supply her team with the match-winning point.

Despite the outcome already being decided, Hassey and Crist collected wins in the No. 5 and No. 3 matches, respectively. Hassey emerged with a win over Bagerbaseh, 7-5, 6-3, while Crist went three sets with Granstrom. She prevailed in the tiebreaker to take the match, 6-1, 2-6, 1-0 (11-9), and settle the final outcome at 4-3.

"Our seniors are leading the way for us right now. They are playing with passion and a desire to finish their careers strong," Maren stated. "We have been struggling with consistency through our lineup, so we will work hard next week to rectify this and get ready for George Washington."

After four straight matches away from Lynchburg, the Lady Flames will return home for a 1 p.m. matchup, next Saturday against George Washington. The Colonials own a 6-4 record, so far this season.