Sports, Women's Sports, Women's Tennis

Long Beach has strong start to season against UC Riverside

The Long Beach State women’s tennis team stringed in a couple strong performances early on, allowing that momentum to culminate in a 5-2 victory against UC Riverside in its first match of the season that took place on Saturday.

Having won the doubles point, Long Beach (1-0  Big West) continued to succeed in its singles matches, winning four of its six matches against the Highlanders (0-1, 0-1 Big West).

“I feel like it was a good start,” head coach Jenny Hilt-Costello said. “There were a lot of nerves that we are working through.”

Three of the 49ers’ singles matches finished handily, clinching the win for the women’s tennis team in two sets each: freshman Zara Lennon 6-0, 6-2; sophomore Sadaf Sadeghvaziri 6-2, 6-2; and sophomore Carlota Casasampere 6-1, 6-3.

Junior Natalia Munoz struggled against Riverside’s Mahli Silpachai in two sets 3-6, 2-6, earning the first singles loss of the game.

Freshman Emma Bardet also suffered a loss to the Highlanders as she lost in a competitive match against Tia Elpusan. With the first two sets having polar opposite outcomes, the third was a tough set that ended in a 6-8 tiebreaker.

The final singles win for Long Beach came from freshman Wiktoria Rutkowska, who competed against Riverside’s Lindsey Gelinas.

Rutkowska and Gelinas had two, hard-fought sets 6-3, 6-7 with the latter being settled by a 7-9 tiebreaker. With the match winding down to its third set, Rutkowska was able to pull away with a 7-5 victory.

“She’s playing the top player from each school that we’re seeing and she had a tough one today, but we saw a lot of grit out of her,” Hilt-Costello said.

This final match demanded plenty of attention, with spectators ranging from team members to staunch supporters, giving rounds of applause and supportive messages to their players.

Rutkowska clinched the win for a number of reasons, one of the most integral being assistant coach Ashleigh Antal.

Antal spoke with players each opportunity she had, calming them down and giving necessary insight.

“She helped me with my serve … trying to prepare and reset me, and she really helped me with that,” Rutkowska said.

Long Beach looks to bolster its record on the road 2 p.m. Friday against San Diego State.

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