By: Billy Owens, Staff Writer
Towson’s spring season came to a close this past weekend with a loss to No. 2 Elon Phoenix in the quarterfinals of the 2017 Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Women’s Tennis Championships Friday, followed by a non-conference defeat to No. 43 Virginia Sunday.
Sunday, the Tigers fell to the No. 43-ranked Cavaliers 6-1 at the Boar’s Head Sports Club in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“The team had put a lot into that match against Elon, which was a lot closer than the score showed,” Head Coach Jamie Peterson said. “It was a challenge for them to get back up emotionally to play a top-50 team.”
Virginia took two of the three doubles flights to seize the opening doubles point. The No. 33 nationally-ranked team of Chloe Gullickson and Cassie Mercer defeated Towson’s No. 1 team of A.J. Gomer and Renate van Oorschodt 6-2, while Rosie Johanson and Meghan Kelley beat No. 2’s Lucy Williams and Jane Shusterman 6-0. The No. 3 doubles contest between Virginia’s Hunter Bleser and Camille Favero and Towson’s Barbora Vasilkova and Sophie Lesage was left unfinished, with Bleser and Favero leading 4-2.
The Cavaliers continued their strong showing in singles action, taking five of the six matches for the overall victory. Nationally-ranked No. 49 Johanson edged Towson’s No. 1 Nicole Shakhnazarova 7-6 (4), 6-7 (6), 1-0 [10-3], while nationally-ranked No. 118 Mercer defeated No. 2 Williams 6-4, 6-0. Kelley beat No. 3 Gomer 6-0, 6-2, Gullickson defeated No. 4 Vasilkova 6-2, 6-0, and Favero beat No. 6 Lucy Gloninger 6-0, 6-4. Towson’s lone point of the dual match came at No. 5 singles as van Oorschodt won via retirement by her opponent Teodora Radosavljevic; van Oorschodt had led 6-1, 3-2.
“At first maybe it was a little overwhelming, but as the match went on certain players were able to adjust and play extremely well,” Peterson said. “We showed a top-tier ACC school that we’re capable of playing competitive tennis with them.”
Friday, No. 7 seeded Towson fell to No. 2 seeded and tournament host Elon 4-0 in the quarterfinals of the CAA Women’s Tennis Championships tournament at the Jimmy Powell Tennis Center in Elon, North Carolina.
“We were very disappointed in the ultimate result, but we couldn’t have been prouder of ourselves and how we competed until the very last point,” Peterson said.
The two teams previously met this season in February, with the Phoenix winning that match at home 6-1. The Tigers lone point came courtesy of the opening doubles point, which proved to be the linchpin of several of their closer matchups later in the season.
Elon marched out to an early 1-0 lead by winning two of the three doubles matches. Olivia Lucas and Erica Braschi beat No. 2’s Williams and Shusterman 6-2, but Towson’s No. 1’s Gomer and van Oorschodt defeated Natalia Janowicz and Maria Paraja 6-4 to even up the doubles at one match all. However, Suzanne Zenoni and Kirsten Ward defeated No. 3’s Vasilkova and Lesage 6-3 to clinch the opening doubles point for Elon.
In singles play, Elon held off third-set rallies by Towson in three close matches and won the other three in straight sets to advance to the CAA semifinal round. Paraja beat No. 5 van Oorschodt 6-2, 6-1, Ward defeated No. 4 Vasilkova 6-3, 6-1, and Braschi topped No. 1 Shakhnazarova 7-6 (5), 6-3 to decide the match for Elon. The remaining three contests were left unfinished, with Lucas leading No. 2 Williams 2-6, 6-2, 6-5, Zenoni leading No. 3 Gomer 6-2, 4-6, 5-4, and Alex Koniaev leading No. 6 Gloninger 7-5, 4-6, 5-4.
“We played a factor in [Elon’s] loss to UNC Wilmington in the next round, which was a really tight 4-2 match,” Peterson said. “Our match lasted longer than UNC Wilmington’s 4-3 win over the College of Charleston in the quarters.”
The Tigers finish their spring 2017 campaign with a 13-12 record in dual match play and a 3-4 record in CAA conference play.
“We proved to a lot of teams out there the damage we’re capable of doing,” Peterson said.
Towson returns to action this fall in invitational and tournament play, which includes the annual Tiger Classic hosted at the Towson Center Courts.