March 3, 2012
HUNTINGTON, W.Va.- The ladies of the Thundering Herd tennis team defeated regional rival Virginia Tech 4-3 at the Huntington Tennis Club on Saturday morning, improving to 5-6 for the season and a perfect 3-0 at home.
Entering the match with less than 24 hours rest since beating Liberty University 7-0 the day before, the Herd knew it had its work cut out for it if it wanted to come away with its second consecutive win and remain unbeaten at home.
Beginning with three doubles matches, the border-state teams went head to head in a war of attrition that saw several lead changes throughout the opening three contests. Marshall’s number one duo of Dominika Zaprazna and Maria Voscekova stayed a game behind for much of its match against Virginia Tech’s Martha Blakely and Carol Kahoun, but used a three-game swing after being down 5-6 to storm ahead for the Herd’s first win of the day. The Slovakian tandem used a service ace on match point to defeat Blakely and Kahoun, and boosted its doubles record to a solid 8-2 for the spring.
Taking note of their teammates’ opening win, Karli Timko and Kia Broomfield followed suit shortly thereafter, downing their Hokie opposition 8-6 after jumping out to a 3-0 lead. The win clinched the doubles point for the Herd 2-1, as the number two pairing of Kara Kucin and Ellie Ball came out on the wrong side of a 9-8 match against the Hokie’s Shannon Betts and Courtney Rauscher.
Up 1-0, Marshall progressed to the singles matches and quickly moved into early leads with first set victories by Zaprazna (6-3), Voscekova (6-2), Ball (6-3), and Koprcina (6-5). The tired legs began to show, though, and the Hokies fought back to draw all-square in the Zaprazna, Voscekova, and Ball matches.
After Virginia Tech’s Isel Martinez-Marcos downed Ball 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 to bring the Hokies level in points, Marshall senior Kristina Koprcina
rose to the occasion and gutted-out a second set, tiebreaking win to put Marshall back on top, 2-1. The Split, Croatia, native unleashed a host of powerful forehand shots that left Tech’s Emily Lauten reeling and unable to manage a single point in Koprcina’s 7-0 tiebreaker win.
After Voscekova fought hard to win her second down-to-the-wire match in two days and put Marshall up 3-1, the Herd victory hinged on the outcome of Kara Kucin’s showdown with Hokie senior Courtney Rauscher. After losing 3-6 in the first, Kucin rallied to win 6-2 in the second before sealing the deal with a hard fought 6-3 win in the third and final set. Zaprazna and Broomfield then lost the other two singles matches, giving the Hokies a slight consolation in their 3-4 loss.
“I feel like this may have been our best team effort of the season,” said Head Coach John Mercer. “We really fought hard and came away with an important win. We are going to keep working hard to improve our game and we look forward to playing two more matches here at home next weekend.”
The victory over the Hokies marks the third time in as many years that Marshall has managed to outwit its Mid-Atlantic Region opponent, and closes the gap in the all-time series to 8-10. The Herd will now recover and refocus this week as it prepares for another weekend of home matches this Friday and Sunday against ETSU and West Virginia.