March 5, 2015

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UMass tennis wraps up regular season with win on Senior Day

Aarzoo Malik, who won her fourth straight individaul win on Senior Day. (Julia Cardillo/Daily Collegian)

Aarzoo Malik, who won her fourth straight individaul win on Senior Day. (Julia Cardillo/Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts tennis team capped off a strong regular season on Saturday, dominating Atlantic 10 rival Rhode Island on Senior Day.

The emotional day for seniors Yuliana Motyl, Jessica Podlofsky, Sonia Bokhari and Bianca Drabek fueled the Minutewomen to an impressive 6-1 victory over the Rams.

“There’s a lot of emotion and distraction in Senior Day,” UMass coach Judy Dixon said prior to the match..

Those emotions, however, only propelled Dixon’s squad forward as UMass (11-8) handily defeated Rhode Island (10-6) thanks to a consistent team effort.

The Minutewomen started the day on the right track by sweeping the doubles matches, an area of play that often troubled them earlier in the season. The youthful pairing of freshman Aarzoo Malik and sophomore Arielle Griffin did not drop a single game en route to an 8-0 victory, while Motyl and her partner, freshman Anna Woosley, won their fourth straight match together (8-3), securing the doubles point.

UMass then won five of six singles matches, all in straight sets, including Malik’s fourth straight individual win (6-1, 6-4) and Podlofsky’s record-extending 74th singles victory of her career. The only point for the visiting team came courtesy of URI’s Taylor Holden, who defeated Bokhari in the No. 2 slot (2-6, 6-2, 10-8).

“I think it was one of those days where almost everything went right,” Dixon said. “We played well…it was a warm occasion, it was well-attended. …When all was said and done it was a good, solid win.”

The match was decided before the end of co-captain Motyl’s No. 1 singles match against the Rams’ Galina Chernykh, who earned first team all-conference honors last year as a freshman, but the two heavyweights battled on with bragging rights and late-season momentum on the line.

Motyl grabbed the first set in convincing fashion, 6-1, but the Rams’ standout player recovered and narrowly won the second set 7-6, pushing the match to a deciding third set tiebreak. All eyes were on the last remaining match as both players fought off match points until Motyl finally secured the victory (6-1, 6-7, 12-10), putting an exclamation point on the UMass tennis team’s regular season.

“She was the last one standing and she had missed a match point, fought off a match point,” Dixon said. “She held on in tough circumstances. … It was a very good win for Yuli.”

Motyl and the rest of the Minutewomen will look to build off this statement win and carry their momentum into postseason action as they travel to the Atlantic 10 Conference Championships, starting Thursday at the Linder Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio.

“Now it’s just a matter of competing well,” Dixon said. “I can’t teach them anything more this deep in the season…I think that this team is playing pretty well right now. I don’t think there’s anything more to do to get them ready.”

Arthur Hayden can be reached at awhayden@umass.edu.

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