UMass tennis stays hot with two wins over break

By Philip Sanzo

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(Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

(Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts tennis team continued its winning ways over spring break, taking two of three dual matches played in Charleston, South Carolina, last week.

The Minutewomen closed out the week with victories against conference foe Davidson and the College of Charleston. UMass lost to Samford earlier in the week.

The Minutewomen (9-4, 3-0 Atlantic 10) defeated the Wildcats 4-3 on Friday to maintain their perfect conference record.

“Our fate was in our own hands and we did the job,” UMass coach Judy Dixon said.

Like in most of their matches this season, the Minutewomen won the doubles point in a three-match sweep.

While the pairs of Arielle Griffin and Aarzoo Malik and Chanel Glasper and Anna Woosley clinched their doubles matches in fairly easy fashion, winning 8-2 and 8-1, respectively, the top pair of Ana Yrazusta and Carol Benito battled to a 8-6 victory.

It was in singles play where the match got interesting, however. Davidson captured the first three singles matches, taking an early 3-1 lead. But UMass displayed its depth at the backend, winning in No. 4, 5 and 6 singles.

Benito (6-3, 6-1), Woosley (6-2, 6-0) and Glasper (6-0, 6-0) secured the game for the Minutewomen in the last three spots.

“It was a very tough match in that we were battling ourselves,” Dixon said. “It was very hot, it was very humid, (the) ball was moving very slowly. … This was much more of the team being gritty and being tough.”

With the 4-3 victory Friday, UMass can now seed no lower than third in the A-10 tournament starting April 16.

“I think this is a team that stands up under pressure,” said Dixon about the Minutewomen’s recent success. “This team rises to the moment.”

UMass splits first two matches

UMass defeated the College of Charleston on Wednesday to split its opening two matches in South Carolina.

The weather proved to be a challenge in itself for the Minutewomen in their road trip, as it marked the first matches UMass played outdoors this season.

“It’s terrible, it’s terrible,” Dixon said of the adjustment. “Playing outdoors, it’s going to be cold and windy and no one is going to be there. It’s never our favorite time of the year.

“Most of the players are better indoors. They are used to the ball coming cleanly through the air. It is a little bit more of a mental challenge.”

The Minutewomen persevered and took Wednesday’s match 4-3.

Yrazusta has opened eyes in her first year at UMass and she continued her success against the Cougars, beating Katherine Schofield in three sets 6-2, 6-7, 6-4.

While she led the way in the singles portion, in which the Minutewomen split 3-3 against Charleston, UMass swept doubles, 3-0.

But despite the Minutewomen’s positive end to spring break action, UMass lost its first match Tuesday against Samford, 4-3.

A loss is rare enough for the Minutewomen, who have won five of their last six matches, but a defeat at No. 1 doubles was unexpected.

Benito and Yrazusta have been close to unbeatable in this spot all season but fell to Samford, 8-6. UMass was swept 3-0 in doubles play.

“If we had to lose a match, the best to lose was to Samford,” Dixon said. “We were not tough at the right times.”

The Minutewomen return home to indoors play for their next match against Albany on Sunday.

Philip Sanzo can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Philip_Sanzo.[liveblog]