Women’s Tennis Suffers First Defeat, Splits Doubleheader
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky Women’s Tennis (3-1) split a Sunday doubleheader, falling to Illinois, 4-3, before defeating Northern Illinois, 6-1. Despite suffering its first defeat of the season in the first match of the day, the Wildcats rallied to easily dispatch the Huskies of NIU, marking the team’s second win over a Mid-American Conference foe this weekend. The match against the Fighting Illini marked the first of five contests against Big Ten opposition this season.
Kentucky was led on the day by stellar performances from junior Elizabeth Stevens and freshman Zoe Hammond. Stevens continued her undefeated start on the No. 1 singles court, claiming victory in both of her matches to move to 4-0 on the season. Joining Stevens with a 4-0 mark is Hammond, who won twice on Sunday to continue an undefeated start to her collegiate career. Senior Maialen Morante saw action for the first time this season, claiming the win at No. 6 singles against NIU.
Illinois started the opening contest by claiming the doubles point in a back-and-forth affair. All three courts were decided by a singular break, as the Illini claimed wins at No. 1 and No. 3 doubles. The Illini pair of Kida Ferrari and Ashley Yeah took down Kentucky’s duo of Ellie Eades and Zoe Hammond, 6-3. However, the Cats stormed back to claim No. 2 doubles by a score of 6-4, thanks to the teamwork of Florencia Urrutia and Makayla Mills. With the point coming down to Court 1, the Kentucky pair of Elizabeth Stevens and Carlota Molina served for a chance to bring the set to a tiebreak, but the Illini were able to break and take a 1-0 advantage into singles play.
Singles action would again prove to be a tightly contested affair, as the two teams split the six matches. Kentucky tied the dual score at one with a clinical performance from Molina. The senior from Gran Caneria, Spain was able to win No. 3 singles, 6-2, 6-2. The Illini would respond a win on Court 4, but the Cats would rally once again, with Elizabeth Stevens winning at the topflight over All-Big Ten selection Kate Duong. Stevens claimed a tough 7-6(3) victory in the first frame before cruising to a 6-3 win in the second. With the match tied at two, the match would be decided by the final three courts. Urrutia was pushed into a tight battle at No. 2 singles, but she was unable to seal the deal, despite winning the first set. The win by Yeah of Illinois would put the visitors a point away from clinching. Hammond, a freshman from Edmond, Oklahoma, would give her team a shot at the match with a decisive 6-2, 6-2 performance at No. 6 singles, but Illinois would ultimately claim the dual with a win on Court 5.
Taking the court after an hour break, Kentucky would turn its fortunes from the morning on its head. The Cats would easily win the doubles point with victories on Courts 1 and 3. Eades and Hammond would race out to a 6-1 win, quickly followed by a clinching, 6-0 win by Molina and Stevens.
Playing with a 1-0 lead, Kentucky kept its foot on the gas during singles play. Suffering an injury early in the first set, Molina was forced to retire, giving the Huskies their only point of the match. Molina’s Wildcat teammates would rally around her and claim the next five matches. Urrutia would bounce back from her first match of the day, claiming a 6-1, 6-1 victory in under 50 minutes. Mills would follow the redemption arc, also rebounding with a 6-1, 6-3 win to earn a split on the afternoon. Stevens would clinch Kentucky’s victory with a 6-3, 6-4 win on Court 1, and was quickly followed up by a 6-1, 6-2 win from Hammond at No. 5. Morante would close out the day for the Cats, claiming an 8-2 victory in a shortened, pro-set match.
The Wildcats will return to the court on Wednesday, Jan. 25, hosting another home doubleheader against Cincinnati and Marshall. Action from Lexington will commence at the Hillary J. Boone Tennis Center with a 10 a.m. EST contest between the Wildcats and the Bearcats. Following that match, the Thundering Herd will take on Kentucky in a 2 p.m. EST matchup. Admission is free to the public and fans outside of Lexington can follow along with live stats, or watch live on Track Tennis.
Kentucky vs. Illinois
Duong/Heuser (ILL) def. Molina/Stevens (UK) 7-5
Mills/Urrutia (UK) def. Casati/Frazier (ILL) 6-4
Ferrari/Yeah (ILL) def. Eades/Hammond (UK) 6-3
Elizabeth Stevens (UK) def. Duong (ILL) 7-6(3), 6-3
Yeah (ILL) def. Florencia Urrutia (UK) 1-6, 6-4, 7-5
Carlota Molina (UK) def. Frazier (ILL) 6-2, 6-2
Heuser (ILL) def. Lidia Gonzalez (UK) 6-2, 7-6(1)
Treiber (ILL) def. Makayla Mills (UK) 6-2, 6-4
Zoe Hammond (UK) def. Ferrari (ILL) 6-2, 6-2
Order of Finish:
Doubles—3, 2, 1
Singles—3, 4, 1, 2, 5, 6
Kentucky vs. NIU
Molina/Stevens (UK) def. Dimitriev/Rakita (NIU) 6-0
Mills/Urrutia (UK) vs. Miroslavova Ninova/Welch (NIU) 3-3 (unfinished)
Eades/Hammond (UK) def. Horne/Righi (NIU) 6-1
Elizabeth Stevens (UK) def. Dimitriev (NIU) 6-3, 6-4
Florencia Urrutia (UK) def. Lukyanova (NIU) 6-1, 6-1
Reagan Welch def. Carlota Molina (UK) 3-1 (ret.)
Makayla Mills (UK) def. Mirsolavova Ninova (NIU) 6-1, 6-3
Zoe Hammond (UK) def. Righi (NIU) 6-1, 6-2
Maialen Morante (UK) def. Chudy (NIU) 8-2
Order of Finish:
Singles—3, 2, 4, 1, 5, 6
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