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The Tigers serve up a daily double, win back-to-back matches

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

In a doubleheader on Saturday, the Clemson women’s tennis team went 2-0, taking down the Georgia Southern Eagles, 6-1, and the College of Charleston Cougars, 5-1. For an overcast day at Duckworth Tennis facility, the Tigers felt anything but gloomy as they improved to 7-1 on the year and remained undefeated at home.

Match day kicked off at 11 a.m. with a doubles point up for grabs. Clemson’s Sophia Hatton and Alexandra Antilla quickly secured a dominant win over the Eagles. Shortly after, Eleni Louka and Jenna Thompson finished their match with a score of 6-1, a win that gave Clemson the doubles point and set the tone for the Tigers for the rest of the day.

Then, it was on to singles, with all six Clemson players winning the first set of their respective matches against the Eagles. South African native Leigh Van Zyl landed a huge serve on set point to take the first set and build momentum for the next. On her way to a 6-2 first-set victory, Louka was lights-out on court one.

As second sets got underway, the tides seemed to favor the orange and purple. Christina Mayorova was the first to win her match. At 5-2 and 40-40 in the second set, Mayorova worked a beautiful point and finished with a convincing volley to give the Tigers their second point of the afternoon. Hatton, Thompson and Louka followed suit as they closed out their matches in two sets.

Meanwhile, on courts five and six, Georgia Southern was looking for life as Eagles players Paula Hijos and Mackenzie Leopold each forced a third set. Leopold fell to Van Zyl in a 10-point tiebreak, where Van Zyl won 9-1.

If there was one bright spot for the visitors, it was Jaca, Spain, natives, who rallied after losing the first set to come back and win thanks to a nail-biting 7-5 victory in the third to clinch a point for Georgia Southern.

The Tigers celebrated their six points with smiles and singing the Clemson alma mater, but business was far from over. The first clash finished before 2 p.m., which left the Tigers with just two hours to recover before a 4 p.m. battle with the College of Charleston.

Nonetheless, Clemson came out ready for more doubles play. Hatton and Antilla came out of the gates firing on their way to a 5-0 lead, which quickly became a 6-1 win. One court over, Charleston’s Halli Trinkle and Maggie Cubitt defeated Clemson 6-3, leaving all eyes on the remaining doubles court for the deciding set. The doubles point eventually went the Cougars’ way as Jaiden McKee served out a clutch few points for her duo to win 7-5.

Down 1-0, the Tigers were given a tall task going into singles play. They proved to be up to the task as Hatton (6-1, 6-2), Mayorova (6-3, 6-2) and Van Zyl (6-2, 6-1) made quick work of their matches and gave the Tigers three points, just one shy of the majority.

On court one, Louka was neck and neck with Charleston’s Cubbit and prevailed to win the first set 7-5. A 6-3 second set for Louka meant four points, and a victory was secured for the home team. Antilla (6-1, 7-5) finished roughly at the same time and earned a fifth.

In the only match remaining, Thompson was en route to a third set with a 5-3 lead in the second after losing the first set 5-7 to German Maja Jekauc.

At 11 a.m., Clemson women’s tennis was 5-1. By 7:05 p.m., the Tigers were 7-1 — not a bad day for the Tigers. With a Valentine’s Day matchup this week against rival South Carolina (4-1) and another doubleheader next Saturday, there has never been a better time for the Tigers to hit their stride.

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Ethan Silipo, Senior Reporter
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