CORPUS CHRISTI – The 27th-ranked Houston women's tennis team improved to 18-4 with a 4-0 victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at the Thomas J. Henry Tennis Center on Saturday. The contest, which was sponsored by Firehouse Subs, snapped a nine-match win streak for the Islanders.
"We played a tremendous team today that has been in the top 25 the whole year," Director of Tennis Steve Moore said. "Our girls competed incredibly hard and if we keep improving five percent a week, I believe this is going to be an incredible finish for our season. I have a ton of respect for Houston, Coach Patrick Sullivan and the team he's built.
"This is a great learning opportunity for us," he added, "because this is the kind of team we're going to have to beat at some point in the season to reach our goals. You're either winning or you're learning. We had won nine in a row, but it's probably good for us to do some learning and have some urgency to improve some key things. These girls competed extremely hard today, but they always compete hard, so I've come to expect that.
"I also want to give a special thank you to Firehouse Subs and David Barganski for their support of Islanders Athletics, Islanders Tennis and for sponsoring this great match," Moore added. "We are very grateful for Firehouse Subs."
Celia Rodriguez was on the verge of earning a victory at No. 4 when the match was called. The sophomore, who has a perfect 12-0 mark at No. 4 on the season, earned a 6-4 victory in the first set over Celia Fraser, then battled her way to a 4-1 lead in the second set.
Likewise, Judit Vives had a strong showing at the No. 2 singles spot, rebounding from a 6-1 loss in the first set to put Elena Kordolaimi on the verge of heading to the third set. The freshman responded with a strong bounce back in the second set, taking a 5-3 lead before the match was called with Vives serving, up 40-15. Kordolaimi had come into the day at 17-5, while Vives entered at 14-1.
But the Cougars were able to rally past the Islanders with straight-set wins at the other four singles spots. At No. 6, Rocio Martin took a 6-0 victory over Cassie Shaw in the first set, then followed that up with a 6-1 win in set number two to improve to 13-5 on the season.
At No. 1, Stefania Nicolae put forth a tremendous rally against 93rd-ranked Despoina Vogasari in the first set. Vogasari took a 4-1 lead in the opening set, only to see Nicolae battle all the way back to 5-4. But Vogasari snapped the momentum to take a 6-4 win in the first, then carried over the momentum for a 6-1 win in the second set to drop Nicolae to 8-9 on the year.
Maider Martin had a similar development at No. 3 against 20-6 Tina Rupert. The sophomore took a 5-3 lead in the first set, but Rupert rallied back to take the next four games for a 7-5 victory. The second set saw the momentum continue for a 6-1 win, her eighth straight, dealing Martin her first loss at the No. 3 spot this season.
The No. 5 slot was a similar story, as Sandra Burges was locked in a tight battle with Maria Cardenas in the opening set. But Cardenas earned a key game with the score tied 3-3 in the first, and she went on to post a 6-4 victory. In the second set, Cardenas was able to post a 6-1 victory to snap a four-match win streak for Burges.
"Houston really gives us a barometer of what we need to improve," Moore concluded. "I love to see a team that is top 25 but run with the highest class and character. It's a great message for every college athlete, that you can still win at the highest level and have the highest character. That's something Houston represents that I have the highest respect for."
The Islanders will return to conference play on Monday, with Oral Roberts coming to town for a 12 p.m. matchup at the HEB Tennis Center. The Golden Eagles hold a 3-13 overall record and an 0-9 mark in conference play. Live updates will be provided on Twitter (@IslandersTennis).
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Tennis Match Results
Houston vs. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi
4/12/2014 at Corpus Christi, Texas
#27 Houston 4, Texas A&M - Corpus Christi 0
1. #93 Despoina Vogasari (HOU) def. Stefania Nicolae (AMCC) 6-4, 6-1
2. Judit Vives (AMCC) vs. Elena Kordolaimi (HOU) 1-6, 5-3, unfinished
3. Tina Rupert (HOU) def. Maider Martin (AMCC) 7-5, 6-1
4. Celia Rodriguez (AMCC) vs. Celia Fraser (HOU) 6-4, 4-1, unfinished
5. Maria Cardenas (HOU) def. Sandra Burges (AMCC) 6-4, 6-1
6. Rocio Martin (HOU) def. Cassie Shaw (AMCC) 6-0, 6-1
1. Despoina Vogasari/Elena Kordolaimi (HOU) vs. Sandra Burges/Judit Vives (AMCC) no result
2. Maria Cardenas/Tina Rupert (HOU) vs. Celia Rodriguez/Maider Martin (AMCC) no result
3. Rocio Martin/Charlotte Phillips (HOU) vs. Stefania Nicolae/Cassie Shaw (AMCC) no result
Houston 18-4; National ranking #27
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi 15-5
Order of finish: Doubles (); Singles (6,5,1,3)