March 31, 2012

Matuszak Sends Islanders One Step Closer to Conference Title in 4-3 Win over Texas State

CORPUS CHRISTI – Mia Matuszak rallied from a one-set deficit to come from behind and take a three-set victory to lift the Texas A&M – Corpus Christi women's tennis team to a 4-3 win over Texas State on Saturday at the Thomas J. Henry Tennis Center. The Islanders improved to 11-2 overall and 4-1 in Southland play to put themselves in contention for the conference title. Texas State is now 10-4 overall and 5-1 in conference.

"This was a match between two of the top teams in the Southland Conference, and it was a tremendous battle," Director of Tennis Steve Moore said. "With the hot conditions today, it all came down to endurance and conditioning, and that's the type of match that we pride ourselves on winning. The courage Mia showed at the end was one of the great finishes I've ever been a part of. Credit Texas State, though, they played an outstanding match today as well – this was a 12-round prizefight that both teams deserved to win."

Matuszak fought through exhaustion and a sprained ankle in her third and final set with the match tied 3-3. Down 0-2 in the final set, she battled back to take a 4-2 lead, but sprained her ankle on the deciding point of the fourth game. It looked like a horrible break for the Islanders, as her ability to finish the match was in doubt, but Matuszak taped the ankle, served underhand because she could not jump, and was able to outlast her opponent, Francesca Bernes, to send the Islanders into a tremendous celebration after a 6-3 victory in the third.

"Mia was an absolute warrior today – I couldn't be prouder of the effort she gave us," Moore added. "We needed someone to come through for us, and she was absolutely fearless out there. She handled the conditions, the pressure and the adversity with so much poise and toughness. What a performance.

"I really credit our women's team, the large crowd of over 120 and the men's team lifting Mia up when she needed it," he added. "This is definitely a true team in every sense of the word."

The Islanders took the doubles point, 2-1, to start the match with a 1-0 lead. Chelsea Horan and Sandra Burgues started things by staving off a hard challenge from Gabriela Rojas and Bernes. After building a 6-1 lead, Horan/Burgues saw Rojas/Bernes charge back to trim it to 6-4, but the Islanders finished off the Bobcats in the 8-4 win. At No. 3, the teams of Matuszak/Stephania Nicolae and Mariana Perez/Rachel Baldree were locked in a tight duel, battling back-and-forth to a 6-6 score, but the Bobcats took the final two games for an 8-6 victory.

That put the doubles point squarely in the hands of Mirna Cicak/Doris Kuselj for the Islanders and Jessica Kahts/Melissa Hadad for Texas State. The Islanders jumped out to a 4-1 lead, but the Bobcats responded with two straight games to trim it to 4-3. From there, the teams battled blow-for-blow the rest of the way to send it to Cicak on serve with the Islanders up 7-5. The Bobcats battled their way to break point, holding the advantage, but Cicak and Kuselj finished them off with three straight points to take the 8-5 victory.

Texas State evened the match 1-1 when Kuselj was forced to withdraw due to injury after losing the first set 6-3. But the Islanders came right back, getting a dominant 6-0, 6-1 win by Burgues over Baldree at No. 3, to regain a 2-1 advantage. At No. 1, it was Texas State getting a point with Kahts taking a straight-set, 6-1, 6-2 victory over Cicak to knot the match up at 2-2. Nicolae came right back for the Islanders, though, winning at No. 4, 6-3, 6-1 over Rojas to give the home team a 3-2 lead heading into the final two matches.

The Bobcats won the first set at both No. 5 and No. 6 to position themselves for the come-from-behind win. Perez took a 6-4 win over Horan in the first set, then rallied from a 5-4 deficit in the second set, winning three straight games for the 7-5 victory to tie the match 3-3. It all came down to the No. 6 singles spot, where Bernes took a 6-3 win over Matuszak in the first set, but Matuszak responded with a 6-4 win in the second. The match came down to the third set, where the junior earned the 6-3 win to clinch the match for the Islanders.

The Islanders will get right back on the court, as they play host to UT Arlington on Sunday at noon at the Thomas J. Henry Tennis Center. Admission is free for all spectators. Match updates will also be available on Twitter, by following @IslandersTennis.

Tennis Match Results
Texas State vs Texas A&M - Corpus Christi
Mar 31, 2012 at Thomas J. Henry Tennis Center

Texas A&M - Corpus Christi 4, Texas State 3
Singles competition:
1. Jessica Kahts (TXSTW) def. Mirna Cicak (AMCC) 6-1, 6-2
2. Melissa Hadad (TXSTW) def. Doris Kuselj (AMCC) 6-3, retired
3. Sandra Burges (AMCC) def. Rachel Baldree (TXSTW) 6-0, 6-1
4. Stefania Nicolae (AMCC) def. Gabriela Rojas (TXSTW) 6-3, 6-1
5. Mariana Perez (TXSTW) def. Chelsea Horan (AMCC) 6-4, 7-5
6. Mia Matuszak (AMCC) def. Francesca Bernes (TXSTW) 3-6, 6-4, 6-3

Doubles competition:
1. Mirna Cicak/Doris Kuselj (AMCC) def. Jessica Kahts/Melissa Hadad (TXSTW) 8-5
2. Chelsea Horan/Sandra Burges (AMCC) def. Gabriela Rojas/Francesca Bernes (TXSTW) 8-4
3. Rachel Baldree/Mariana Perez (TXSTW) def. Mia Matuszak/Stefania Nicolae (AMCC) 8-6

Match Notes:
Texas State 10-4, 5-1 SLC
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi 11-2, 4-1 SLC
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3,1); Singles (3,1,4,5,6)