The UConn women’s tennis team opened their fall season over the weekend, sending split squads to both the Quinnipiac Invitational and the Harvard Fall Classic. The Huskies took home the Flight “C” singles title in Hamden.
"It was a great start to our fall season," stated assistant coach Jennifer Meredith. "The team got a lot of quality match play in and we competed extremely well. They have been practicing so hard and it's great when you can put that into play and compete. For five of our players to be playing on the last day of a tournament is a true testament of how hard they have been working and its showing off."
Junior Shea Flanagan (Overland Park, Kans.) and freshman Jacqueline Lazaro (Largo, Fla.), playing in her first collegiate matches, both advanced to the finals of the “C” singles flight. The Huskies elected not to contest the championship match between the two.
Flanagan’s journey to the finals started with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Fordham’s Destiny Grunin. She moved on to the semi’s when Seton Hall’s Isabell Klingert was forced to retire due to injury in the quarters. Flanagan cemented her spot in the all UConn title match with a 6-4 and 6-3 win over Drexel’s Anisiya Simpson.
Lazaro opened her Husky career with a 3-0 weekend, starting off with a 6-0, 6-3 win over Katie Kim of Seton Hall. She beat Providence’s Amanda Pitocco in the quarterfinal, 6-3, 6-1 and made it to the finals with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Kendra Bunch from Drexel.
In the “D” singles flight, junior Jenise Vargas (Pasadena, Calif.) and freshman Gillian Perrotta (Scarsdale, N.Y.) both played their way into the semifinals. Vargas earned wins over Hannah Zangari of Providence, 6-3 and 6-3, and Adrian Young of host Quinnipiac, 6-0 and 6-1. Perrotta posted an opening 6-1, 6-1 win over Fairfield’s Gabriella Campos and then beat Katherine DeNucci of Providence, 6-1 and 6-2 in the quarterfinal. She lost a tough fought three set battle with Fiorella Coria of Drexel in the semi’s, winning the first set 6-2 but falling 6-3 and 10-5 in the tie-breaker.
The duo then teamed for an impressive run in the “B” doubles flight, winning three-straight matches to advance to the finals. Playing in their first match together, Perrotta and Vargas opened with an impressive 6-0 win over Kaila Nelson and Gabriella Connors of Fairifled. The duo then went 6-3 over Sacred Heart’s Paige Olson and Claudia Ruiz in the quarters and topped Seton Hall’s Katie Kim and Isabell Klingert, 6-3, to get to the final. Their run ended with a 6-3 loss to Drexel’s Lea Winkler and Kendra Bunch.
"Gillian and Jenise competed extremely well for only having been playing together for a couple weeks. Shea and Jacque Lazaro also did a great job battling through some tough opponents to reach the finals. I am proud of these women and we are excited to take this momentum into this weekend at Army."
In the “B” singles flight, sophomore Zaina Zaki (West Chester, Pa.) won a pair of matches to advance to the semifinals. Zaki posted a 7-6 (2), 7-5 (5) win over Fordham’s Hannah Drayton and a 6-2, 4-6, 11-0 win over Proyfon Lohaphaisan of Quinnipiac.
In the doubles “A” flight, the team of Flanagan and sophomore Summer Walker (Conyers, Ga.) won their first matches to get to the semifinal. The duo posted a 6-3 win over Drayton and Mayu Sato of Fordham and a 6-2 win over Drexel’s Simpson and Clary Rodriguez Cruz.
Up in Cambridge, Mass., the UConn doubles team of junior Emma Alderman (Hingham, Mass.) and sophomore Yelyzaveta Pletnyeva (Vinnitsa, Ukraine) advanced to the semifinals of the “B” flight. Alderman and Pletnyeva bested Yale’s Valerie Shklover and Elizabeth Zordani, 8-3, and Wake Forest’s Samantha Asch and Xue Zhang, 8-5.
In singles play, Alderman and Pletnyeva also picked-up a pair of victories. Alderman picked up victories over Boston College's Wan-Yi Sweeting, 6-2 and 6-3, and then beat Yale's Amy Yang, 6-1 and 6-2. Pletnyeva earned a 6-3, 6-2 win over Nada Zaher of Columbia and a 6-2, 6-3 win over Elizabeth Zordani from Yale.
"It was exciting for our team to get invited to the Harvard Fall Classic," state head coach Glenn Marshall. "The quality of teams in this tournament was the highest level we have ever played in a fall tournament. I was very pleased to see that all of our players were match ready and competed at a very high level."
Freshman Jacquelyn Fitz-Randolph (Tampa, Fla.) earned her first collegiate singles victory, defeating Vivian Cheng of Columbia, 6-2, 6-2. She also got her first doubles win, teaming with senior Srna Stosljevic (Novi Sad, Serbia) for an 8-5 win over Kasey Gardiner and Kimmy Guerin of Wake Forest.
"Emma Alderman and Lizzy Pletnyeva were outstanding, both going 4-2 over the weekend," stated Marshall. "In fact, all four players posted victories in the tournament. Freshmen Jackie Fitz-Randolph proved she can play at a very high level getting her first singles and doubles wins of her career."
The Huskies are back on the court next weekend when they travel to West Point, N.Y. to take part in the Army West Point Invitational.