Miami and Western Michigan Advance to Women's Tennis Championship

Updated 5/1/2010

Story courtesy of Miami and Western Michigan Sports Information. 

Miami 4, Buffalo 1

KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- Top-seeded Miami was pushed to the brink by No. 5 Buffalo in its Mid-American Conference semifinal Saturday afternoon, but escaped with a 4-1 victory at Western Michigan's Sorensen Courts. Sophomore Stephanie Danesis saved the day with a three-set victory at No. 2 for the deciding point.

After winning the doubles in convincing fashion, Miami (17-6) jumped out to first-set wins in five of the six singles ties. But Buffalo quickly regained composure and momentum, pushing three of the matches to a deciding set. No. 2 was one of those, where Danesis won the opening set 6-4 over before falling 6-2. The Akron native broke serve to start the third and never looked back, winning the third set and the match, 6-0.

"Once again, we came out as a team and got the win," Interim Head Coach Ricky Rosas said. From spots 1 to 6 we fought until the end against a tough opponent. Winning the doubles point was a great way to come out and it gave us confidence for the singles. I knew it wasn't over after that. I am so excited for this win and ready to defend our title tomorrow."

The RedHawks had opened a 1-0 lead by cruising through the doubles. Miami surrendered just four games total in the three matches, winning 8-2 at No. 3 and 8-1 at No. 1. Anastasia Dracheva and Sydnee Bridger lost the opening game on serve, then won three straight games. After Diana Popescu and Diana Toia made it 3-2, Miami rattled off five games in a row to claim the victory. Danesis and Megan Martzolf won the first three games, then five straight to close out their win.

At No. 2, Cara Wald and Riekie Honiball held a 7-0 lead and had three match points, but Anna Subenkova and Tamara Markovic rallied to erase the shutout. The match was abandoned at 7-1 when the other ones were completed.

Buffalo evened the match at 1 when Markovic defeated Bridger 6-2, 6-1 at No. 6 singles. While the top three matches went to a third set, Honiball and Wald were grinding through wins at Nos. 4 and 5, respectively. Honiball won a tiebreaker 9-7 in the first before taking the second set 6-3, while Wald battled to a 6-4, 6-1 victory after leading 5-2 in the first set.

Dracheva won her first set at No. 1 6-1, but Denise Harijanto rallied to even the match 6-3. The Bulls senior won all four games in the third set when the match was abandoned. Martzolf followed a similar pattern and was in jeopardy of losing for the first time in 23 matches this spring. After taking a 6-3 win in the opener, she fell 6-4 and was down 5-0 over the final two sets when the match ended.

"I just tried to have a more positive attitude in the third set," Danesis said. "I kept fighting, not only for myself, but for my teammates. Seeing us losing at 1 and 3, I knew it was critical for me to come out strong in the third set. I dont think she (Petrova) expected that."

Miami will look to defend its 2009 championship Sunday at noon against third-seeded and host Western Michigan, a 4-3 winner over Akron on Saturday. The pairing is a rematch of last year's final, won 4-0 by the RedHawks.

#1 Miami 4, #5 Buffalo 1
May 1, 2010 at Kalamazoo, Mich. (Sorensen Courts)

Singles competition

1. Anastasia Dracheva (MIAMI) vs. Denise Harijanto (UB) 6-1, 3-6, 0-4, unfinished

2. Stephanie Danesis (MIAMI) def. Aleksandra Petrova (UB) 6-4, 2-6, 6-0

3. Megan Martzolf (MIAMI) vs. Diana Popescu (UB) 6-3, 4-6, 0-5, unfinished

4. Riekie Honiball (MIAMI) def. Diana Toia (UB) 7-6 (9-7), 6-3

5. Cara Wald (MIAMI) def. Kira Golenko (UB) 6-4, 6-1

6. Tamara Markovic (UB) def. Sydnee Bridger (MIAMI) 6-2, 6-1

Doubles competition

1. Stephanie Danesis/Megan Martzolf (MIAMI) def. Denise Harijanto/Aleksandra Petrova (UB) 8-1

2. Riekie Honiball/Cara Wald (MIAMI) vs. Tamara Markovic/Anna Subenkova (UB) 7-1, unfinished

3. Sydnee Bridger/Anastasia Dracheva (MIAMI) def. Diana Popescu/Diana Toia (UB) 8-2

Match Notes

#5 Buffalo 9-9

#1 Miami 17-6

Order of finish: Doubles (3,1); Singles (6,5,4,2)

2010 Mid-American Women's Tennis Championships

Winner advances to championship match vs. #2 Akron/#3 Western Michigan



Western Michigan 4, Akron 3

KALAMAZOO -- For the second year in a row, Western Michigan senior Yumi Matsuto won the final match on the court to propel her team into the Mid-American Conference Women's Tennis Championship final. This year, Matsuto's win clinched a 4-3 victory for the third-seeded Broncos (16-10) over second seed Akron (19-3) in the semifinals at Western Michigan's Sorensen Courts in front of members of the 1999 and 2000 WMU conference championship teams.

Last season, Matsuto won in three sets at No. 6 singles to push the Broncos past Buffalo, while this year she moved up to No. 3 and defeated Angelika Jogasuria 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-3 to put the Broncos into the championship match for the sixth season in a row. Matsuto avenged her loss to Jogasuria's identical twin, Angelina, last Saturday when WMU fell to Akron, 5-2, in the regular season finale for both teams in Kalamazoo.

"I was thinking about last year," Matsuto said. "I knew it was going to come down to my court and I just kept telling myself that I could do it and that helped me a lot. (Also) I like being in the last match and having everybody watching."

"Yumi's a senior and has been in that situation before," head coach Betsy Kuhle said. "We're not changing her game and not doing anything other than encouraging her to play her game and that's what she did. She can go all day."

Western Michigan will face top-seeded regular season champion Miami (17-6) in the final at noon in a rematch from last year's final, which the RedHawks won, 4-0. Miami won the regular season meeting, 5-2, at home on March 26 in the conference opener for both teams.

"We've been building to this point all season. We may not be the most talented team, but we're good learners and I think my team is very coachable," Kuhle said. "I give them all the credit in the world. They came out and followed the gameplans we gave them and did a fabulous job."

The Broncos, hosting the tournament for the first time since 2000, lost the doubles point to the Zips last weekend, but doubles proved to be the difference in the tournament. Junior Amanda Moccia and sophomore April Kerr pulled away late to win 8-5 at No. 3 in the first match off the court.

The final two matches ended almost simultaneously as Akron had match point at No. 1, while WMU held match point at No. 2. Both matches started the point at the same time. Akron won its match first, but less than five seconds later, the Zips missed to give an 8-5 victory to Matsuto and sophomore Maria Nivia at No. 2 and the opening point of the match to WMU.

The Zips came back in singles to take the lead, 2-1, with a victory at No. 4 singles and No. 1 singles. Second Team All-MAC senior Emily Dudzik gave two-time MAC Player of the Year Zara Harutyunyan all she wanted at the top position. Harutyunyan was forced to save several set points before surviving in the first set tiebreaker, 11-9, in her closest set against any MAC competitor this season.

Freshman Jill Pastunink was in control at No. 6 singles against Jeremie Benjamin with a 6-0, 5-2 lead, but the Zip battled back to 5-4, as the Broncos strived for its first singles point. Benjamin saved a match point on Pastunink's serve back to deuce, before the freshman from Zeeland, Mich., finished her off for her 10th consecutive victory to tie the score, 6-0, 6-4.

Next to Pastunink at five singles, Nivia was staging a comeback of her own against Anya Baronayte. Nivia lost to Baronayte 6-4, 6-0 last Saturday in the regular season meeting and trailed 4-1 in the first set. The sophomore from Cali, Colombia, steadily climbed back into the contest to eventually win the match 7-5, 6-3 and put WMU on the verge of victory, 3-2.

On the other bank of courts, Moccia was working on a comeback of her own with a 6-2 win in the second set at No. 2 after dropping the opener, 6-1. At the same time, Matsuto was re-grouping after winning a first set tiebreaker, but falling in the second, 6-3.

Moccia's match was further along and she hung around before Angelina Jogasuria heated up late to win the match 6-1, 2-6, 6-3 and put the pressure on her twin sister and Matsuto at No. 3.

Matsuto built a 4-1 advantage before Jogasuria broke Matsuto's serve to cut the lead to two, 4-2. Matsuto came right back with a service break to lead 5-2 and put the match on her serve. Matsuto earned multiple match points, but Jogasuria fought them all off to extend the match, 5-3. She scored just one point in her next service game as Matsuto triumphed to send WMU into the finals in a scintillating conclusion to a match that took nearly four hours and was racing to finish under the threat of impending rain. 

#3 Western Michigan 4, #2 Akron 3
May 1, 2010 at Kalamazoo, Mich. (Sorensen Courts)

Singles competition

1. #104 Zara Harutyunyan (AKRON) def. Emily Dudzik (WMU) 7-6 (11-9), 6-1

2. Angelina Jogasuria (AKRON) def. Amanda Moccia (WMU) 6-1, 2-6, 6-3

3. Yumi Matsuto (WMU) def. Angelika Jogasuria (AKRON) 7-6 (7-3), 3-6, 6-3

4. Prang Pantusart (AKRON) def. Maggie Remynse (WMU) 6-1, 6-2

5. Maria Nivia (WMU) def. Anya Baronayte (AKRON) 7-5, 6-3

6. Jill Pastunink (WMU) def. Jeremie Benjamin (AKRON) 6-0, 6-4

Doubles competition

1. Angelika Jogasuria/Prang Pantusart (AKRON) def. Emily Dudzik/Jill Pastunink (WMU) 8-5

2. Yumi Matsuto/Maria Nivia (WMU) def. Anya Baronayte/Zara Harutyunyan (AKRON) 8-5

3. April Kerr/Amanda Moccia (WMU) def. Jeremie Benjamin/Angelina Jogasuria (AKRON) 8-5

Match Notes

#2 Akron 19-3

#3 Western Michigan 16-10

Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (4,1,6,5,2,3)

2010 Mid-American Conference Women's Tennis Championship

Winner advances to championship to play #1 Miami



Tournament Schedule:

Thursday, April 29

1:00 p.m.  No. 8 Ball State vs. No. 9 Northern Illinois (Ball State W)

Friday, April 30

10:00 a.m.  No. 1 Miami vs. No. 8 Ball State (Miami W)

10:00 a.m.  No. 4 Toledo vs. No. 5 Buffalo (Buffalo W)

2:00 p.m.  No. 3 Western Michigan vs. No. 6 Eastern Michigan (Western Michigan W)

2:00 p.m.  No. 2 Akron vs. No. 7 Bowling Green (Akron W)

Saturday, May 1

10:00 a.m.  No. 1 Miami vs. No. 5 Buffalo (Miami W)

2:00 p.m.  No. 3 Western Michigan vs. No. 2 Akron (Western Michigan W)

Sunday, May 2

Noon  MAC Championship -- No. 3 Western Michigan vs. No. 1 Miami