WORCESTER, MA: Clark Women's tennis lost a very close match to UMass Dartmouth 5-4 on Tuesday. While a loss always hurts, the women took two of the three doubles matches and had three singles matches go to three sets. The women never gave up, and kept fighting until the final point, showing their grit and depth as a team.
At #1 doubles senior captain Anna Gates (North Scituate, RI) and first year Eleanor Hodgkin (Manchester, ME) won 8-6 against Lauren Mogart and Jaime Fastino. The Clark pair were consistent, limited unforced errors, and had answers for every shot that UMass Dartmouth threw their way.
Finally, Clark seized the lead at #3 doubles when junior Elizabeth Tchantouridze (Northfield, VT) and first year Megan Balani (Braintree, MA) defeated UMD's Rachel Aftandilian and Hana Hershey. In their first time playing a match together, the duo's chemistry was clear and on full display in the victory.
Hodgkin lost for Clark at #1 singles 0-6, 2-6 to UMD's Mogart. Despite her best efforts, Hodgkin simply could not overcome the star for UMD.
Clark's Skulsky lost a marathon match at #2 singles. Skulsky was actually the final match on the court, and despite losing, showed great skill. After going down a set to UMD's Fastino, Skulsky came back and took the second set, then fought hard the entire third set. Skulsky was defeated 4-6, 6-3, 4-6.
Gates also lost a very tight and long match in three sets at #3 singles to UMD's Michelle Aftandilian. Similar to Skulsky, Gates lost a first set, and then battled back to win the second, before losing in a long and drawn out third set. Both Skulsky and Gates showed that this year's Clark team will not go down without a fight, something that will hopefully set the tone for the rest of the season. Gates final score was 3-6, 6-3, 4-6.
Clark got a big victory at #4 singles when Tchantouridze defeated Rachel Aftandilian 7-5, 6-1. In Tchantouridze's own words, "I feel like I played my game today. I just stayed patient and picked my moments carefully, and then went for my shot." Liz hopes to capitalize on her two game winning streak Thursday.
Another Clark player with a two game winning streak now is Clark #5 singles first year Megan Balani. Balani was down a first set, yet managed to come back and win not one, but both of the next two sets to put Clark on the board. By playing consistent and using slice, Balani wore down her opponent and ultimately stood victorious for Clark. Balani defeated UMD's Melanie Wong 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.
Finally, at #6 singles, first year Nardin Sayoufi (Shelton, CT) got to play in her first match as a Clark Cougar. Despite losing 4-6, 0-6 to UMD's Jackie Bokis, there were a lot of positive takeaways for the first year, who played well in the first set and will hope to use the experience to help her moving forward.
Clark women's tennis returns Thursday at home versus Worcester State, as the Cougars hope to bring their record up to 2-1. That match is scheduled for a 4:00PM start.