Eagles Drop Season Opener to Nationally-Ranked Cowgirls, 7-0

Eastern shows fight in challenging debut against No. 61 Wyoming

The Eastern Washington University women’s tennis team entered the 2013 campaign with four nationally-ranked opponents on its schedule. One of those teams was Wyoming, who EWU played in the season opener on Saturday (Jan. 19) in Pullman, Wash.

It was a competitive match, but EWU ended up falling to the Cowgirls, 7-0.

“The scores in the match do not reflect how well the team played,” said EWU interim head coach Dustin Hinson. “Overall, I was super happy with our performance. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy against a ranked team, but we played tough. We started strong, and continued to fight even when we were down. I know this team truly believes that we can beat anyone we play this year.”

Wyoming nabbed the first point of the day with wins at No. 2 and No. 3 doubles, both of which were 8-2 decisions. With the doubles point already decided, the match at No. 1 was suspended, but Eastern’s duo of Moira Hedberg and Chelsea Patton was on the verge of an exciting comeback against UW’s top pair of Alexandra Kovacs and Sesa Nemcova.

“We were down a game in the match at No. 1, but was in position to break back when the match was called,” explained Hinson. “Moira and Chelsea were playing great, and really battling.”

In singles, Hedberg had another close match against Kovacs at No. 1. Hedberg won four games in the first set before falling, 6-4, and then forced a tiebreaker in the second set. But the sophomore from Oxnard, Calif., came up just short, as Kovacs prevailed, 7-6 (4).

Patton faced Nemcova again at No. 2 singles, and although she dropped the match, Patton was able to take five games.

Sophomore Chrissy Uriarte, playing at No. 3 singles, gained an early advantage when she dominated her opponent in the first set, 6-1. But UW’s Silviya Zhelyazkova charged back for a 6-4 decision in the second and 6-2 victory in the third to take the match.

Sophomore Helon Ricks made her anticipated debut after a redshirt season in 2011-12. Ricks played  a solid match at No. 4, but ended up falling, 6-0, 6-0.

“That match was a lot closer than it looks, there were a lot of deuce games,” said Hinson. “Helon’s strokes were as good if not better than her opponent, but for her, it’s just a matter of getting back into it and finding that match-toughness again. She’s coming off an injury and hasn’t played in over a year.”

Senior Kelsey Knight dropped her match at No. 4, 6-1, 6-0, while sophomore Alexis Filliol, playing in her first dual match as an Eagle, fell at No. 6, 6-3, 6-1.

EWU will travel to Oregon next weekend for a pair of matches in Eugene. The Eagles take on their second-straight ranked opponent in No. 66 Oregon on Friday (Jan. 25), and then play Portland on Saturday (Jan. 26).

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