Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Crawford, Yrazusta and Moreno make history at ITA Championships

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(Jong Man Kim/ Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts women’s tennis team had a historic weekend, as no UMass doubles team and only one singles player had ever made it to the quarterfinals at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Northeast Regional Championship before.

After defeating Drexel on Saturday, seniors Laura Moreno and Ana Yrazusta became the first doubles tandem in program history to advance to the final eight.

Moreno and Yrazusta defeated tandems from LIU Brooklyn, Syracuse and Drexel in earning their quarterfinal birth.

The two players share an intense on-court energy which made the decision to pair the team for this weekend’s championships an easy one for UMass coach Juancarlos Nunez.

“They both play with a real passion,” Nunez said. “They are a very fiery team and they really play their best tennis when they are playing with that high energy, that fire, and that competitiveness, which has definitely been their strength.”

Moreno and Yrazusta, who are both natives of Spain, have been paired together for every tournament of the fall season. They were eliminated from contention this weekend after falling to the fourth-seeded tandem from Dartmouth.

On Sunday, Ruth Crawford became the second Minutewoman to make it to the quarterfinals of the tournament in history. Crawford needed two come-from-behind victories to earn one of the final eight spots.

Crawford, who was given a bye to start the tournament, beat Syracuse’s Maria Tritou in straight sets 6-2, 6-2. She dropped the first set of the next match 1-6 to UPenn’s Ashley Zhu.

The junior would rally to earn back-to-back 6-4 set victories to earn the match win. She would fall behind again against UConn’s Yelyzaveta Pletnyeva in the round of 16 by dropping the first set 3-6. But once again, Crawford would respond, taking the next two rounds 6-2, 6-4 to earn a spot in the final eight.

Nunez knew not to doubt his captain’s comeback ability.

“Obviously you are not going to win all those matches when you drop the first set,” he said. “But I know with [Crawford] she’s always going to fight and leave it all out there no matter what.”

Crawford bowed out of the championships against the top-seeded Gabriela Knutson from Syracuse. She would finish 3-1 on the weekend.

The Northeast ITA Championships took place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from Thursday and ran until Sunday. It is the marquee tournament of the fall tennis season, fielding competitors from 40 schools in the region.

This weekend has further shown Nunez that this team could be special.

“We competed against the best players and best teams in our region,” Nunez said. “I think we showed ourselves that we are just as good as any team out there.”

UMass will compete in their final tournament of the fall in Hanover, New Hampshire at the Big Green Invitational hosted by Dartmouth. The meet will run from Nov. 3 to Nov. 5.

Tim Sorota can be reached at [email protected]

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