The Long Beach State women’s tennis team fell short 5-1 in its home opener Saturday against Saint Mary’s.
“It was a tough loss,” head coach Jenny Hilt-Costello said. “We let them control the points…I don’t think we are the lesser team, but today we played as the lesser team.”
The 49ers dropped all three of their doubles matches. The first loss was quick, when Saint Mary’s freshmen Hind Abdelouahid and Marija Kozryeva dominated Lena Pacholski and Natalia Munoz with a 6-1 defeat.
The Gaels´ senior Kareena Manji and sophomore Danielle McIntyre overpowered Maren Helgo and Georgia Gulin 6-3. 49ers’ Lalita Devarakonda and Sadaf Sadeghvaziri´s match against Clementine Clement and Emma Critser was unfinished and the extra point was awarded to the away side.
“We are really pleased on how we won today,” Saint Mary’s head coach Simon Harston said. “We faced a very good team at home, we are happy on how we played doubles and five out of six singles we did great.”
A light turned on for Long Beach when Pacholski made quick work of Kozryeva 6-4, 6-0 in the first game of singles tying the match 1-1. The Gaels responded quickly by beating the 49ers in four of the five remaining singles. The fifth single game of Devarakonda against Saint Mary’s Clement called to an early finish, burying Long Beach´s hope of victory.
“We were determined,” Harston said. “We gave a good fight and defended the court during the match. We were willing to keep fighting and hustling throughout the match. I am proud of my team, we deserved the win today.”
Despite the loss, Pacholski’s standout performance for the 49ers was exceptional. The senior had an individual class performance during the singles and even swept her opponent during the second set of her match. After today’s victory, Pacholski has recorded six straight wins in singles matches.
“My opponent was up and down,” Pacholski said. “She could make really good plays. I tried to mix my game up as much as I could because she was beginning to understand my serve. I really tried to finish the game fast and planed to make her not know where my ball was going.”
Hilt-Costello noticed that Pacholski’s performance made her a sturdy opponent in her singles match.
“It was fantastic,” Hilt-Costello said. “[Pacholski] played a very tough opponent with strong results and she countered aggressive with aggressive. At the end of the second set it is all credit to Lena because she broke her opponent down.”
While the Saint Mary’s Gaels will travel to play No. 4 Stanford Cardinal this coming Friday, Long Beach will look to return to its winning ways 2 p.m. Friday when it hosts the BYU Cougars.