Penguins Push Flames To Last Set But Fall 4-3

Margarita Sadovnikova
Margarita Sadovnikova

Indianapolis, Ind. - The Youngstown State women's tennis team forced UIC to a final winner-take-all deciding set in the Horizon League Championship match, but came up short falling 4-3 to the Flames on Sunday afternoon at the West Indy Racquet Club.

YSU fell behind 1-0 dropping the doubles point. The Flames earned wins at No. 1 and No. 3 to earn a key point.

In singles, the Penguins tried to mount a comeback and took two leads - 2-1, 3-2.

At No. 1 Paula de Man won for the 16th consecutive time beating Haley Craig 6-1, 6-4. de Man finished the year with a 23-1 mark, all matches at No. 1 singles.

Then at No. 3, Marta Burak defeated Natasha Kuvankina 6-3, 6-3 to put the Guins ahead 2-1. For Burak, it was her 15th straight win and she ended the season with a school-record 28 wins (28-5).

UIC (16-5) tied the match with a 6-3, 6-4 win over the Penguins' Tijana Raicevic at No. 6.

YSU went back on top when Margarita Sadovnikova defeated Mariana Palacios, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 at No. 2. Sadovnikova won her final 11 matches and ended the year 23-11.

At No. 4, Lauren Hankle dropped a 6-3, 6-0 match to Jana Knoppe tying the dual at 3-all.

The lone remaining match saw Annina Brendel battle all the way until the end. After dropping her first set 6-1 to Kathryn Sharpels, she fended off two match points to win a second-set tiebreaker 9-7.

In the third set, Brendel trailed 4-1, but won the next three points and was on serve at 4-all. However, Sharpels broke her service and went on to serve out the final point for a 6-4 win.

It was the 17th consecutive conference championship win for UIC and the first time since 2008 it was pushed to a 4-3 decision.

The Penguins finished the year 15-10 while advancing to the Horizon League Championship match for just the second time in school history. 

UIC 4, YSU 3

No. 1 - de Man (YSU) def. Haley Craig (UIC) - 6-1, 6-4
No. 2 - Sadovnikova (YSU) def. Mariana Palacios (UIC) - 6-3, 3-6, 6-2
No. 3 - Burak (YSU) def. Natasha Kuvakina (UIC) - 6-3, 6-3
No. 4 - Jana Knoppe (UIC) def. Hankle (YSU) - 6-3, 6-0
No. 5 - Kathryn Sharples (YSU) def. Brendel (YSU) - 6-1, 6-7 (7), 6-4
No. 6 - Keti Mebuke (UIC) def. Raicevic (YSU) - 6-3, 6-4

No. 1 - Craig/Palacios (UIC) def. Burak/Sadovnikova (YSU) - 8-6
No. 2 - Hankle/de Man (YSU) vs. Knoppe/Sharples (UIC) - Unfinished
No. 3 - Kuvakina/Sophie Hahn (UIC) def. Brendel/Raicevic (YSU) - 8-3