Eastern Edged by Southern Utah, 5-2

Eagles drop two three setters in tough road loss to Thunderbirds

Despite a strong start to singles, the Eastern Washington University women’s tennis team could not get past the Thunderbirds of Southern Utah, who won the doubles point and went on to take the match, 5-2, on Tuesday (March 26) in Cedar City, Utah.

With the loss, EWU falls to 5-11 on the year, and 3-3 in Big Sky Conference play, while the T-Birds improve to 7-5 overall and are now 2-2 in league.

Eastern’s No. 1 doubles pair of Moira Hedberg and Chrissy Uriarte had an impressive performance against SUU’s Olya Kunz and Aleksandra Ivanova, outlasting the T-Birds on their home court, 8-7 (7-4). But unfortunately, EWU ended up conceding the overall doubles point with an 8-2 loss at No. 2 and 8-4 defeat at No. 3.

Down 1-0 in the match, the Eags quickly turned the tables with a hot start in singles, as Hedberg and sophomore Alexis [Lexie] Filliol picked up the first two wins at No. 1 and 6, respectively. Hedberg defeated Kunz, 6-4, 6-2, while Filliol cruised past SUU’s Afton Staheli, 6-1, 6-1.

“This was probably the best I’ve seen Lexie play all year,” said EWU interim head coach Dustin Hinson. “She came out and was on it from the beginning, just playing with confidence, and really dominating. And I was really proud of Moira as well, because she has had some tough matches as of late. But she was strong from start to finish, so it was great to see her get that win.”

Southern Utah was able to even it back up at 2-2 when Madeline Skaras bested EWU senior Kelsey Knight at No. 4, 6-1, 6-4.

After a 6-0 loss in the first set, Uriarte battled back to force a tiebreaker in the second set of her match at No. 2, but Ivanova prevailed, 7-6 (7-4) to give her team a slight edge.

Despite a 3-2 deficit, it looked as though EWU would pull off an inspiring upset in Cedar City, as both its No. 3 and 5 players won their opening sets.

Senior Chelsea Patton had a convincing 6-1 victory in her first set at No. 3 and was ahead 4-1 in the second set as well. But SUU’s Veronika Rogova found a way to battle back and ended up taking that second set in a tiebreakter, 7-6 (7-3). Rogova then went on to win the match with a 6-1 decision in the third, which clinched the win for the T-Birds.

“I thought we had it,” said Hinson. “It’s frustrating because we knew this was a match we really needed to get to better our chances at making the conference tournament. I actually think the we wanted the win so bad, we might have overplayed a little bit. The team played hard and had a good attitude through it all, but I think we needed to loosen up and just play our game, and that didn’t happen.”

Warner also won her opener, 6-1, but then suffered a 6-4 loss in the second and 6-2 loss in the third to fall to Anastasiia Vasileva at No. 5.

EWU will continue its spring break road swing on Friday (March 28) with another Big Sky dual against the Lumberjacks of Northern Arizona. First serve from Flagstaff scheduled for 2 p.m. PST.

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