Liberty Drops Close Contest to FIU, 4-3
Liberty dropped a close contest to Florida International, falling 4-3 to the Panthers in a neutral site match at the FGCU Tennis Complex.
Liberty loses its first match of the season, falling to 1-1. FIU improves to 1-0 on the year and 3-0 all-time versus the Lady Flames. Liberty’s Esther Lovato earned her 80th career singles victory today.
Thoughts From Head Coach Jeff Maren
“I was very proud of how our team competed today. We faced a team that finished inside the top 50 last season and will most likely do so again this year. We battled and displayed how much we were willing to give of ourselves. Everyone – those who won and those who lost, gave everything they had today. That’s all I can ask for as a coach!”
Florida International 4, Liberty 3
- M. Juliana P. Romero (LIBERTYW) def. Yasmine Kabbaj (FIU) 6-2, 7-5
- E. Khairutdinova (FIU) def. Alexandra Almborg (LIBERTYW) 6-1, 6-2
- Kamila Umarova (FIU) def. Marina Davtyan (LIBERTYW) 6-3, 6-1
- Esther Lovato (LIBERTYW) def. Barakat Oyinlomo (FIU) 6-3, 6-4
- Tiffany Nguyen (LIBERTYW) def. Katerina Mandelikova (FIU) 1-6, 6-4, 7-5
- Salma Loudili (FIU) def. Micaela Ode Mitre (LIBERTYW) 6-3, 6-3
- Kamila Umarova/E. Khairutdinova (FIU) def. Marina Davtyan/M. Juliana P. Romero (LIBERTYW) 6-1
- Yasmine Kabbaj/Barakat Oyinlomo (FIU) def. Alexandra Almborg/Esther Lovato (LIBERTYW) 6-2
- Kristina Miletic/Katerina Mandelikova (FIU) def. Tiffany Nguyen/Micaela Ode Mitre (LIBERTYW) 6-2
Florida International 1-0
Order of Finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (2,4,3,6,1,5)
How It Happened
• FIU won all three doubles matches to take the first point of the match. The Lady Flames and Panthers split the six singles contests, with Liberty winning on courts one, four and five.
• FIU extended its lead to 2-0 when Ekaterina Khairutdinova topped Alexandra Almborg of Liberty in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2, on court two.
• The Lady Flames’ Esther Lovato bested Barakat Oyinlomo of the Panthers in two sets (6-3, 6-4). Lovato is 12-1 in singles this year and 80-13 in her career. She is the third player in program history to reach 80 singles victories.
• The Panthers regained a two-point lead (3-1) with Kamila Umarova’s 6-3, 6-1 result over Marina Davtyan in the No. 3 singles match. FIU secured the victory and a 4-1 lead with a 6-3, 6-3 triumph from Salma Loudili against Micaela Ode Mitre on court six.
• Liberty claimed the final two matches on court, winning in the No. 1 and No. 5 slots. The Lady Flames’ Maria Juliana Parra Romero battled past Jasmine Kabbaj 6-2, 7-5 in what was a battle of sophomores from their respective teams.
• After dropping the first set 6-1 to Katerina Mandelikova, Liberty’s Tiffany Nguyen came all the way back to take the match in three sets, 1-6, 6-4, 7-5. Nguyen’s first spring singles victory settled the final score at 4-3.
• The Lady Flames will be back in action in 13 days (Jan. 28). Liberty will host East Carolina (9 a.m.) and Longwood (5 p.m.) in a doubleheader at the Liberty Indoor Tennis Center.
• Liberty is 16-4 all-time against Longwood and 2-4 versus ECU. The Lady Flames downed the Lancers 7-0 a season ago (Feb. 12, 2022). The Lady Flames and ECU Pirates last met on March 24, 2017 in Lynchburg, a 4-3 Liberty victory.
Main Photo at Top of Story: Maria Juliana Parra Romero