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Clemson women’s tennis secures first win in thrilling season opener

Max Knipstein, Contributor
Clemson women’s tennis player Cristina Mayorova rallies the ball in Duckworth Family Tennis Facility.

In a dramatic match that came down to the last tiebreaker, the Clemson women’s tennis team defeated the Eastern Tennessee State Pirates 4-3 on Friday, Jan. 19, marking head coach Boomer Saia’s first win with the program.

Clemson’s lineup featured six of seven returning players, with key senior Daniella Medvedeva out due to injury.

Sophia Hatton and freshman Alina Tsyurpalevych provided an early spark for the Tigers on court three, defeating the Pirates’ Jana Rovira and Ralitsa Alexandrova 6-0.

Despite a late rally from Eastern Tennessee State’s Daniela Rivera and Fernanda Caravajal, Jenna Thompson and Eleni Louka secured the doubles point with a 6-3 win on court one.

ETSU equalized the match at 1-1 on court six, as Ralitsa Alexandrova applied pressure early and never looked back, defeating Clemson’s Leigh Van Zyl 2-0 (6-3, 6-2).

Minutes later, the Pirates took the lead on court three. Thompson fought valiantly against Rivera, but Rivera continued to find answers with a 6-4, 6-3 win.

Clemson began to fight back after Tsyurpalevych gave another superb outing on court four. The freshman had a debut to remember, winning in two sets (7-6, 6-4) to tie the score at 2-2.

Clemson regained the lead with strong play from Hatton. Proving to be one of Clemson’s top returners, she took the win on court five in two sets, including a tiebreaker in 7-5, 7(7)-6(2).

The last two points came down to two tense, three-set matches for seniors Cristina Mayorova and Louka.

Despite trading the first two sets with her opponent, a Mayorova ankle injury led to Caravajal clinching the point handily with a 6-0 win in the third set.

With the match on the line, Louka’s resilience signified her return as a top player for Clemson. After four hours of tennis and all of the attention on court one, she showed nerves of steel against ETSU’s Sofia Markova.

A referee’s decision to disallow trainer assistance late in the duel saw Louka applying a hyper-volt massage gun to relieve her over-exhaustion. Though she was fatigued, Louka overcame the adversity, defeating Markova 6-4, 7-6, 7(7)-6(3) to clinch the victory.

Clemson returns to Duckworth Family Tennis Facility with a doubleheader on Sunday, Jan. 21. The first match begins at 11 a.m. versus Georgia State, with Western Carolina following at 4 p.m.

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Patrick Driscoll
Patrick Driscoll, Senior Reporter
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