April 20, 2012
MEMPHIS, Tenn.- Host team and No. 64 ranked Memphis avenged last season’s 4-0 quarterfinal loss to the Marshall University women’s tennis team by reversing the score in a 4-0 win against the Thundering Herd at this year’s Conference USA Championships.
In a showdown of the No. 4 and 5 seeds, the higher ranked Tigers took advantage of a doubles win and the support of the home crowd to surge forward and steal the first three singles matches from the Herd. No. 81 ranked Stefanie Mikesz and No. 90 ranked Mariya Slupska were the first two Tigers to claim singles points for Memphis, winning in respective straight sets over Marshall’s Kara Kucin and Ellie Ball. In what would be the final point of the day, Kelly Gray defeated Karlyn Timko 6-4, 6-3 on court six to clinch the Memphis victory at 4-0.
The remaining singles matches went unfinished, even as Dominika Zaprazna was putting together an impressive 6-2, 6-5 performance over the Tigers’ No. 33 ranked Courtney Collins, and Maria Voscekova had clawed her way back into the lead against Tiffany Welcher on court two. The duo was also tied at 5-5 with the No. 51 ranked tandem of Tiffany Welcher and Alyssa Hibberd in doubles play before Memphis won the other two matches to leave the match unfinished on court one.
Senior Kristina Koprcina, competing in her final match with the Herd, fell 8-0 alongside doubles partner Karlyn Timko to Courtney Collins and Kelly Gray in doubles, but had nearly drawn level with Alyssa Hibberd in singles action before the overall match came to an end.
The loss sees Marshall finish the season with a 13-10 record, including a perfect 7-0 record at home. On the road, though, the Herd was much less impressive, ending the spring season with a 3-7 record away from Huntington and an even more disappointing 0-7 record against nationally ranked opponents.
“I felt like Memphis got off to a really strong start while we were up and down in a few positions,” said Marshall head coach John Mercer after the match. “We dug ourselves a hole in the beginning and were starting to get the momentum at the end, but just ran out of time. As the match went along we had gotten more and more comfortable and actually finished pretty strong, but Memphis did a great job competing and was just more consistent than we were in enough spots.”
Memphis will now advance to the semifinals of the C-USA Championships while Marshall’s spring season comes to an end. The Herd’s lone senior, Koprcina, will be the only member of the squad not returning to the team next season as she departs with 61 singles victories and a top-20 place in Marshall’s all-time list for singles wins.
“This tournament was a good experience for our young team,” continued Mercer. “Our freshmen will learn from this and the future is bright with another year of experience under our belts and some good recruits coming in. Overall I’m pretty proud of what we were able to do this season. We showed a lot of improvement between January and April, and if we continue to improve over the summer I think we’ll be a tough team to beat next season.”