Feb. 14, William and Mary (3-2) travelled to Des Moines, Iowa to take on Iowa State (5-2). Both the Tribe and the Cyclones were coming off of losses, but the Tribe ultimately extended its losing streak with a 5-2 defeat. The two Tribe points came from a double’s victory and one singles win. Throughout the entire game, the Tribe picked up six sets while the Cyclones took 11 sets.
Freshman Ella Van Meerteren won all of her matches against the Cyclones, helping the Tribe account for both of its points. Thus far, Van Meerteren has won all of her singles matches for this tennis season and continued that streak against the Cyclones. She has only dropped one doubles match of the season with partner senior Charlotte Madson.
Van Meerteren’s match was key to clinching the doubles point. The second pair of senior Rosie Cheng and freshman Raffaela Alhach dropped their first game, 6-1. Then, Madson and Van Meerteren defeated their opponents with a 6-4 win, tying the doubles score and allowing the first pair to decide the point. The first pair game was long, and the match was settled in a tiebreaker. The Tribe helped their teammates junior Vitoria Okuyama and sophomore Mila Saric rally to defeat the Cyclone first pair, 7-6.
In the singles portion of the match, Van Meerteren quickly polished off her opponent with a 6-2, 6-1 win. Her victory marked the end of the Tribe’s points for the evening, as the Tribe lost the next five matches. Alhach was the first casualty, falling 6-4, 6-1. Madson, who played on line four, dropped her sets 6-4, 6-2. Okuyama also did not win a game in the third position, dropping both of her games 6-4.
The first two singles spots were tightly contested, with both the Cyclones and the Tribe taking games. The Tribe fought to take control of the three-setters. Cheng surged to a 6-3 lead in the first game but lost the next two. Saric took on Cougar Thasaporn Naklo, her opponent from doubles, for a race in singles. Naklo was ranked 72 in the US for singles and 51 for her pair with Christin Hseih. Even though Saric lost the first set, she powered back for a 6-4 win in the second set. In the final, deciding set, Saric lost 6-2.
The Tribe stayed in Iowa to take on Georgia State (2-4) at a neutral site the next day. While the Tribe had a double header, the Panthers had a week of rest and a win to come into the game. The momentum from Iowa State served (pun intended) the Tribe well, and it defeated the Cougars 4-1.
The doubles match once again came down to a tiebreaker. Saric and Okuyama dropped their set, 6-4, but Van Meerteren and Madson teamed up to send the deciding set to the second pair, winning their set 6-3. Going into the game with the Cougars, the second pair had yet to win a match, but had been close on several occasions; this time, Cheng and Alhach fought until the end, defeating their opponents 7-6 in a grueling tiebreaker situation.
The Tribe’s young talent propelled the team to two back-to-back wins in doubles. The freshmen stepped up in both their doubles and singles matches to win points for the Tribe.
Van Meerteren won a dual-match on Feb. 14 while Alhach took hers on Feb. 15. It was Alhach’s first dual-win match of her collegiate career. In singles, she won the first tiebreaker set 7-6 and sent her opponent Mara Pop packing with a 6-0 blitz to secure her point.
Okuyama also went to tiebreaker in her singles match but didn’t let Cougar Angel Carney break into the scoring. She won her next set 6-3. Cheng played three sets in singles, coming out victorious. She won the first set 6-3 but dropped the next 2-6. A 6-0 win gave the Tribe its fourth point of the night, stopping Saric and Madson’s games in their tracks.
Next weekend, Feb. 22, the Tribe will start a two-game home stand. On Saturday at 1 p.m., it will face East Carolina, who still has yet to play a home game.