April 19, 2014
NORFOLK, Va. – Having reached the semifinal round of the Conference USA Championship for the first time since the 2011 spring season, the No. 4-seed Marshall tennis team fell 4-2 to No. 1-seed Tulsa on Saturday afternoon at Folkes-Stevens Tennis Center.
The Thundering Herd ends the season with a 14-8 overall record, while the Golden Hurricane improves to 17-4 this season. Marshall finishes the spring with a 3-1 mark in neutral site contests.
“I thought that we really had an opportunity to be successful today, but we couldn’t take advantage of it,” said Marshall coach John Mercer.
With a spot in Sunday’s championship dual match on the line, Tulsa started off singles play with a swift two-set win on court No. 3, 6-4, 6-4, to take a 1-0 lead in the contest. In the No. 2 spot, Marshall freshman Derya Turhan (Bad Salzuflen, Germany) countered with a victory of her own, 6-1, 4-6, 6-1, in three sets to knot the dual match up at one point apiece.
Sophomore Dana Oppinger (Weingarten, Germany) would follow suit with her doubles partner to take her singles match in three sets, 6-2, 6-7, 6-1, in the No. 1 position, putting the Herd ahead of the Golden Hurricane, 2-1.
The top seed would quickly counter with their first three-set victory of the semifinal dual match with a 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 comeback on court No. 4 to draw even with Marshall, 2-2. Riding on momentum with two singles matches in progress, Tulsa used a 6-2, 6-0 straight-set sweep in the No. 6 spot to take a 3-2 lead in the dual match to put Marshall on the brink.
For the second-straight day, the match result hinged on the singles success of senior Karli Timko
(Houston, Pa.). After having dropped the first set, the lone Herd senior led 5-4 in the second set with a chance to force a third set and extend the match. The Golden Hurricane would answer with three straight points in the set to complete a 6-2, 7-6 sweep on court five and clinch the 4-2 dual match victory.
“We really just needed to get another singles win to bring it to doubles, but we just couldn’t extend it,” Mercer said after the dual match. “I thought we could have played better so I’m disappointed. Hopefully we can build on this for next year, but this wasn’t the way we wanted to end this year, playing the way we did.”
With the win, Tulsa advances to face No. 2-seed Rice on Sunday in the C-USA Championship final with an automatic bid to the 2014 NCAA Tournament up for grabs.
No. 1 Tulsa 4, No. 4 Marshall 2
Singles (Order of finish: 3, 2, 1, 4, 6, 5)
1. Dana Oppinger (Marshall) def. Yelena Nemchen (Tulsa) – 6-2, 7-6, 6-1
2. Derya Turhan (Marshall) def. Renata Kuricova (Tulsa) – 6-1, 4-6, 6-1
3. Rongrong Leenabancho (Tulsa) def. Kai Broomfield (Marshall) – 6-3, 6-4
4. Marcelina Cichon (Tulsa) def. Anna Pomyatinskaya (Marshall) – 3-6, 6-4, 7-5
5. Saana Saarteinen (Tulsa) def. Karli Timko (Marshall) – 6-2, 7-6
6. Maria Sant’Anna (Tulsa) def. Rachael Morales (Marshall) – 6-2, 6-0