Mia Matuszak prevailed 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 over NSU’s Linda Gamo in the decisive No. 6 singles battle to hand A&M-CC (16-4) the victory. Matuszak rallied from 4-3 down in the second set to triumph and send the Lady Islanders into a Friday semifinal against tournament host and regular-season champion Stephen F. Austin.
The Lady Demons, with four first-year players in the lineup, finished 14-5, falling short of reaching the tournament final for the first time in three seasons.
“The match was what we expected, a very tough fight, and unfortunately we came up short today,” said Lady Demon coach Patric DuBois. “Matuszak hung in there, battling a bum ankle, and played her heart out. Linda Gamo gave everything she had but today it went their way. We competed well in every spot.”
The opening doubles point went to A&M-CC when Chelsea Horan and Sandra Burgess fought off five match points for a 9-8 (9-7) win over NSU’s Tatiana Larina and Andrea Nedorostova.
The Lady Demons had claimed the No. 1 doubles as Olga Bazhanova and Polina Konop prevailed 8-3, but A&M-CC answered with an 8-2 decision at No. 3 over Gamo and Amy Williams.
The Lady Islanders padded their lead to 3-0 by closing out singles wins at Nos. 4 and 5, but Konop started a Lady Demon comeback with a 7-5, 6-4 victory at No. 3. Bazhanova, the team captain and NSU’s only senior, made it 3-2 with a 6-3, 7-5 decision in the No. 1 position. Larina tied it when she finished a 6-1, 7-6 triumph at No. 2.
“Everyone competed well, but two stood out. Polina has been sick, not able to get on the court for four days, and she went out and won singles and doubles. Olga, in her final match, played great tennis. She was down 5-2, 40-love in the second set and came back and won it. You can’t play with any more heart than she did today,” said DuBois.
Bazhanova finished her career with 48 singles wins (48-31), 11th in school history, and a 64-20 doubles mark, third all-time at NSU in doubles victories. She won the decisive singles match in the 2010 Southland Tournament that sent NSU to the NCAA Tournament.
“Olga, boy, she gave a great speech to our team afterwards. It wasn’t about what had happened, it was about what is ahead for these girls who just finished their first year here. She told them what is within their grasp. It was inspiring, it was emotional and it’s something I’ll always remember,” said DuBois.