/Women’s tennis cruises in Mercer Gridiron Classic

Women’s tennis cruises in Mercer Gridiron Classic

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Daniel Hunt

Staff Writer

It was a great weekend for the Troy women’s tennis team as it brought home a number of first-place finishes from the Mercer Gridiron Classic over the weekend.

In doubles, each Trojan pair started the tournament in the round of 16 due to a first-round bye. When they finally saw the court, seniors Sanae Ohta and Nancy Karaky faced off against the Georgia College duo of Jena Kelly and Valeria Lopez.

Troy’s All Sun-Belt duo advanced, winning 6-3.

Following an injury in the quarterfinal, the pair got another free pass into the semifinal against Georgia Southern, where they lost 7-5 to Arianne de Winter and Charlotte Van Diemen.

On the opposite side of the bracket, seniors Efriliya Herlina and Jiayuan Xue coasted to the final round and won the doubles championship.

En route to the championship match, Herlina and Xue lost only two games. The duo defeated Florida A&M’s Adrienne Clayton and Haleigh Porter team 6-0 in the second round before beating Selin Devrimci and Nina Schwab from Florida Southern 6-2.

Georgia Southern’s Ella Monsey and Emilia Bujan couldn’t hold off Troy in the following round as Herlina and Xue advanced 6-0. In the finals, the duo got the chance to avenge Ohta and Karaky for their previous loss.

Herlina and Xue did just that, taking down de Winter and Van Diemen of Georgia Southern 6-1 to win their second straight doubles tournament.

Freshmen Maria Casas Blas and Matea Mihaljevic also did well in their separate doubles draw, advancing all the way to the semifinals before losing to Marija Blazevic and Jovana Curcic of Alabama State University.

In singles, five of the seven women made it to the semifinals in their respective draws.

Draw A featured junior Hannah Seizer and Ohta. Seizer lost her first singles match 6-4, 6-4 to Rehaana Butt of Bethune-Cookman. Ohta advanced past Jacksonville State player Mali Buchner in three sets 6-0, 3-6, 6-2 before losing in the quarterfinals against Katie Sidor of Mercer 7-6 (6), 6-2 to end her tournament run.

The rest of the seniors took part in Draw B, and the two freshman rounded out Draw C.

An interesting showdown emerged throughout the draw as multiple Trojans matched up against each other.

Herlina and Karaky met in the semifinals in a competitive match from which Herlina advanced 7-6 (6), 7-5. In the final, Herlina had to play her teammate and doubles partner to win the bracket. Xue stepped up to the challenge, defeating Herlina 6-4, 7-5 to win her first tournament of the year.

“I think it is normal in tennis,” Xue said about the civil war-style final. “You might play with a partner one day and then turn right around and play against her.

“We both played a lot of tennis that day, and we both enjoyed it.”

In Draw C, the two Troy freshmen, Mihaljevic and Casas Blas, were supposed to meet each other in the final, but because of bad weather, the match was postponed until Tuesday.

When the women got back to Troy, they faced each other for the title. Mihaljevic bested Casas Blas 7-6 (1), 7-5 to win her first collegiate tournament.

Overall, Troy dominated in singles, with four of its seven players playing in a finals match.

Troy will compete next in Auburn at the ITA Regional on Thursday, Oct. 19.