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UMass women’s tennis bounces back with win over Fairleigh Dickinson

Jong Man Kim/Collegian

The Massachusetts women’s tennis team had a quick turnaround after a lopsided loss to Brown University Friday.

A 1-0 Fairleigh Dickinson team awaited the Minutewomen Sunday at the Bay Road Tennis Center, and UMass was ready after a one-day rest. The Minutewomen came out with a decisive 5-2 victory.

UMass coach Judy Dixon was pleased with her team’s performance overall.

“I was most pleased with their spirit and tenacity,” Dixon said.

The Minutewomen came out strong, winning three straight doubles matches that included another victory by the combination of freshman Janja Kovacevic and junior Ana Yrazusta. The duo has won all three of their dual matches this season. Kovacevic showed some initial signs of inexperience, but was able to make the plays she needed to help her team win.

“Ana struggled a bit mentally in this match but she held herself together enough to win,” Dixon said.

Yrazusta also showed strong resilience in singles play. After dropping her first set, she came back to win the final two with scores 6-2 and 6-4.

Senior Brittany Collens did the same by winning her final two sets after dropping the first. Strong veteran leadership from players like Collens and Yrazusta was a key factor in the Minutewomen’s ability to grind out victories like this one.

“In the case of Brittany and Ana they found a way to win which is often what separates good teams from the pack,” Dixon said.

Strong showings in doubles in the beginning of this season has been a key factor in the team’s 3-1 start, and it comes from some of the earlier practices that helped players such as Kovacevic gel with veterans like Yrazusta.

“We do work on doubles particularly in the fall. Ana has matured into a fine doubles player and of course that helps Janja learn,” Dixon said.

Yrazusta is now returning the favor by passing on what she learned from veterans when she first started with UMass to youngsters like Kovacevic.

“When Ana first started here she did not know how to play doubles and Carol Benito helped her,” Dixon said. “Now she is reaching back to help a freshman.”

It was a much needed win on Sunday, especially given the tough road ahead this upcoming weekend, as the Minutewomen play back-to-back days on Friday and Saturday in Washington D.C. Georgetown hosts UMass Friday and the Minutewomen kick off Atlantic-10 play Saturday against the Colonials.

“We only have two days to unwind from the weekend and then turnaround to play Georgetown and George Washington,” Dixon said. “Surely we are at a bit of a disadvantage playing in their facilities.”

When asked about how her team will prepare for these two games, Dixon added, “I do not want them to look ahead to George Washington. The grudge match from the A-10 is big, but focus on only Georgetown for now.”

Jacob Mackey can be reached at jacobmackey@umass.edu.

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