Sports, Women's Tennis

‘Niners slip past Irvine, take driver’s seat in conference race

After falling behind early, the No. 46 49ers fired back to win their fifth match in a row with a 4-3 victory over Big West Conference rival No. 51 UC Irvine on Saturday at the Rhodes Tennis Center.

Anais Dallara and Deborah Armstrong rallied to win close matches at No. 1 and No. 3 singles after teaming up to snatch a victory at No. 2 doubles earlier in the day.

At No. 1 singles, Dallara dropped the opening set, 0-6, to Stephanie Hammel, but fought back to take the second set, 6-4. She opened the third set with a 5-2 lead before Hammel struck back and forced a tiebreaker.

Dallara stepped up in the tiebreaker, winning 7-3, giving The Beach the point they needed to secure the victory.

Armstrong lost her first set 4-6 but won the next two sets convincingly, 6-2, 6-4, in a critical win over Courtney Byron at No. 3 singles. Her serves appeared too powerful for Byron to handle as Armstrong recorded ace after ace in the second set.

The match was close from start to finish with both doubles and singles going down to the wire.

At No. 1 doubles, No. 55 Jaklin Alawi and Rachel Manasse lost a hard-fought match, 9-8, to the Anteater team of Hammel and Byron that gave UCI the doubles point. Alawi and Manasse battled back and forth with the UCI duo, but were hampered by unforced errors.

Their struggles at doubles didn’t carry over, however, as both won at singles.

Alawi defeated April Bisharat 6-2, 3-6, 6-0, at No. 2 singles. Play was suspended for 10 minutes during the third set with Alawi up 1-0, as Bisharat received treatment for a leg injury. Bisharat returned to finish the set and match, but it was obvious her injury bothered her as she struggled to put up a fight.

Manasse downed Brooke Bartlett 6-3, 7-5 and didn’t let her loss at doubles haunt her.

“I had to let it go, bounce back and realize it was just one point and we had six to go,” Manasse said. “I needed to be part of the team and get some points out there.”

LBSU’s Anna Jeczmionka lost to Becka Kwan 6-1, 5-7, 7-6 (3), at No. 5 singles and Julie Luzar was defeated by Kristina Smith 6-2, 6-0, at No. 6 singles. At No. 3 doubles, the 49er team of Sarah Cantlay and Luzar fell to Bartlett and Smith, 8-3.

The Beach (5-1, 2-0 Big West) will host Pacific next Saturday at 11 a.m. The 49ers will honor assistant coach Hannah Grady in a ceremony prior to the game by naming court No. 1 after the four-time Big West Player of the Year.


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