If recent history is any guide, William and Mary might be wishing that they were allowed to play all their matches within the conference. After capturing the 2011 CAA Championship, the Tribe has struggled so far in the regular season, but when faced with an in-conference test, it prevailed in familiar fashion.
The College (5-14, 1-1 CAA) snapped its five-match losing streak Friday, edging out CAA foe Old Dominion in a thrilling 4-3 final in Norfolk.
Junior Anik Cepeda clinched the match for the Tribe with a straight-set victory over ODU’s Juliana Pires at the No. 5 spot in singles play. Pires fought hard in the first set, but Cepeda’s consistency ultimately wore her down in a 7-5 first set. With the momentum on her side, Cepeda easily put Pires away in the second set, breezing to a 6-2 score that ultimately sealed the Tribe victory.
Although the final result was favorable, the Tribe got caught in an early hole after losing the doubles point. ODU’s Diana Ivanova and Aleksandra Mitrovska powered past sophomores Hope Johnson and Jeltje Loomans in the No. 1 doubles spot by an 8-4 margin.
Junior Marlen Mesgarzadeh and senior Katie Kargl fell at the No. 3 spot to their Monarch counterparts, 8-3. Sophomore Maria Belaya and Cepeda prevailed over ODU’s Melissa Esnal Olguin and Pires in the No. 2 spot, but the Monarchs ultimately secured the doubles point by virtue of their No. 1 and No. 3 squads.
Facing a 1-0 deficit, attention turned to singles play. Loomans set the comeback tone with a riveting first set return against Mitrovska in the No. 2 spot. Mitrovska had built a 5-2 lead before Loomans came storming back, forcing a tiebreak.
Once again, Mitrovska struck first and built a substantial 5-1 lead in the tiebreak. Undeterred, Loomans came back in similar fashion, winning six straight points to take the tiebreak and the set. Loomans did not have to rely on her penchant for comebacks the rest of the match, as she easily prevailed in the second set, 6-0.
Belaya conquered in a tightly contested match over Ivanova in the No. 1 spot. Belaya, who won 6-4, 6-3, garnered her fourth match in the No. 1 spot. Ivanova, a previous All-CAA selection, was 13-4 in singles play this season prior to her meeting with Belaya.
Junior Nina Vulovich fell at the No. 3 post to Esnal Olguin, 6-3, 6-2, allowing Old Dominion to record another point. Khmolovska gave the Monarchs more hope by downing sophomore Hope Johnson in the No. 4 spot. Khmolovska edged out Johnson 7-5 in the first set, but overpowered Johnson in the second set, 6-3.
Kargl recorded a key victory in the No. 6 spot for the College. Kargl easily bounced ODU’s Faith Atisto, 6-2, 6-0, ending the overall team match at 3-3. With the match hanging in the balance, Cepeda prevailed in the clutch, allowing the Tribe to celebrate its first conference victory of the season.
The College will look to continue its winning ways Wednesday when No. 56 Virginia Commonwealth visits Millie West Tennis Facility.