HOUSTON – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi women's tennis team opened its 2013 spring season with a momentous, 4-3 win over No. 75 Houston Sunday at John E. Hoff Courts. The Islanders got the clinching point for one of the biggest wins in program history when the No. 1 doubles team of Doris Kuselj/Stefania Nicolae defeated Houston's top unit 8-5.
"What an emotional day for our team," Director of Tennis Steve Moore said. "This is one of the biggest wins for our women's program in its history. We came out and had so much energy off the bat and were able to overcome so much adversity.
"I can't tell you how proud I am of these girls," he continued, "they never quit fighting even when we had chances and let them slip away. The competitive spirit on this team and the way they fought today represented all that is Islanders Tennis.
"That is a good Houston team and a well-coached Houston team," Moore added. "That was one tough team to play on the road. This was one of those matches where both teams deserved to win – it could not have been any closer."
Due to the threat of impending rain showers, the two teams elected to start the match with singles play, and the Islanders came out blazing. Texas A&M – Corpus Christi won its first three matches – with No. 2 Maider Martin (6-2, 6-1), No. 4 Nicolae (6-0, 6-3) and No. 3 Sandra Burges (6-3, 6-0) winning in rapid succession – to take an immediate 3-0 lead.
"Sandra came out with a ton of energy, as always, and got us up early," Moore said. "What a great example from our co-captain. Maider played a great match in her first college dual. She beat a very good opponent that played a very challenging style. She is going to be a great player for us this year and down the line."
After No. 1 Kuselj (7-5, 7-5) and No. 5 Chelsea Horan (7-5, 6-1) fell in their singles matches, Leanne Mascall had the squad on the verge of winning the match in singles play. With the match knotted at one set apiece, she rebounded from down 4-0 in the third to go up 5-4 on serve. But Dionne Sanders earned a break and was able to carry that momentum over to a 7-5 victory.
"I can't tell you how proud I am of Leanne," Moore said. "She competed like an absolute warrior today."
With that, the match all came down to the doubles point. As it was throughout the day, the Islanders had to overcome some adversity. The duo of Horan/Burges knocked off the Cougars' No. 2 tandem in quick fashion, 8-0. The top pair of Kuselj/Nicolae rallied from an early deficit to pull out an 8-5 victory and send the Islanders home victorious. The No. 3 duo of Martin/Mia Matuszak held a 6-5 lead when the match was stopped.
"I love the way our new doubles teams work together and encourage each other," Moore said. "We handled the no-advantage sudden-death points incredibly smart and with great courage. This adds a great, new dynamic to college tennis with sudden death."
The Islanders will return to action with the start of conference action, as they will take on Central Arkansas in Dallas, Texas. For all the latest on Islanders Tennis, be sure to follow the team on Twitter (@IslandersTennis) and on Facebook (IslandersTennis).
1. Elena Kordolaimi (UH) def. Doris Kuselj (TAMUCC), 7-5, 7-5
2. Maider Martin (TAMUCC) def. Celia Fraser (UH), 6-2, 6-1
3. Sandra Burges (TAMUCC) def. Rocio Martin Fernandez (UH), 6-3, 6-0
4. Stefania Nicolae (TAMUCC) def. Charlotte Phillips (UH), 6-0, 6-3
5. Maja Kazimieruk (UH) def. Chelsea Horan (TAMUCC), 7-5, 6-1
6. Dionne Sanders (UH) def. Leanne Mascall (TAMUCC), 2-6, 6-1, 7-5
Order of Finish: 2,4,3,5,1,6
*1. Kuselj/Nicolae (TAMUCC) def. Phillips/Kazimieruk (UH), 8-5
2. Horan/Burges (TAMUCC) def. Kordolaimi/Garvey (UH), 8-0
3. Martin/Matuszak (TAMUCC) vs. Fraser/Sanders, 6-5, DNF