Ben Garbarek

Miami University’s women’s tennis seniors said goodbye to the friendly confines of the Hepburn Tennis Courts with a 4-3 win over Mid-American Conference rival Ball State in the team’s final regular season match.

Miami junior Victoria Pulido perhaps had the afternoon’s most decisive and exciting match. After dropping the first set 5-7, Pulido won a second set tiebreaker, to push her No. 5 singles match into a third and decisive set. With all other matches completed and the team score locked at 3-3, Pulido defeated Ball State’s Emma Retter 6-4 in the final set to give Miami the win.

“She has tremendous heart,” Head Coach Ricardo Rosas said. “She doesn’t give up.”

Pulido’s victory pulled Miami’s record to an even 4-4 in conference and 10-12 overall.

Saturday’s regular season finale victory over the Cardinals also featured a matchup between last week’s MAC co-players of the week. Miami senior Katrina Lomidze and Ball State’s Sophie Quist shared the honor and faced one another in No. 1 singles action. Quist took control of the match from the very beginning and won the match 6-2, 6-2.

“(Quist) has a tricky serve and it took me until midway through the first set to get used to it,” Lomidze said. “She played smart and threw me off my zone early – it was hard to get it back.”

After winning the Player of the Week honor, the outing was not one Lomidze was hoping for.

“She wanted to do so well with being MAC Player of the Week,” Rosas said. “She got a little tight.”

Despite the rough singles outing, Lomidze enjoyed a solid showing in No. 1 doubles play, teaming up with fellow senior Linda Jirouskova to defeat the Cardinals’ No. 1 duo of Quist and Haly Calderwood 8-3. Lomidze punished Ball State with powerful passing shots while Jirouskova cleaned up around the net with convincing putaways.

“Everything we tried was working,” Lomidze said. “It was an enjoyable match.”

Lomidze and Jirouskova played aggressively and capitalized on the Cardinals’ missed opportunities to lock up the win for the Red and White.

Before her singles victory, Pulido also earned points for Miami after pairing with junior Leda Pesatova to win their No. 2 doubles match against Jennifer Pollack and Christine Stromberg 8-5. The RedHawks went 2-1 in doubles play after nabbing the No. 1 and 2 doubles matches.

Just as her partner Pulido, Pesatova won her No. 2 singles match after their doubles victory. Pesatova defeated Calderwood 6-4, 7-5 in a heated match that tested both players’ tempers.

Junior Kelly Douple bounced back nicely after dropping her No. 3 doubles match to win in No. 6 singles play. Douple won a tough first set 7-5, and cruised through the second set 6-2.

Saturday’s match marked the final time the seniors played in front of a home crowd.

“It’ll be emotional in the locker room after it’s done,” Lomidze said. “It’s bittersweet.”

Rosas noted the importance of winning a close meet like Saturday’s match against Ball State.

“We had many matches earlier this season that could have gone either way but we couldn’t close,” he said. “It’s good to win a close one.”

Miami will look to use the momentum gained from its victory over Ball State as they travel to Toledo next weekend for the MAC Championships.

“We feel strong going into the MAC Championships,” Lomidze said. “Everyone is fighting and confident – I’m going to give it my all, it’s my last MAC Tournament.”

Rosas feels confident that the girls are ready for the tournament.

“They are believing in themselves,” he said. “We’re looking forward to the MAC Tournament, we’re ready.”