Long Beach State women’s tennis won the Big West Tournament Sunday, after defeating Hawai’i in the final round 4-3. The game included the 49ers overcoming a 3-1 deficit with the help of multiple singles players.
Coming into the game the matchup seemed favorable for the 49ers, having beat the Rainbow Warriors 5-1 in the regular season. The outcome would eventually seem meaningless when Hawai’i earned the doubles point and took control of the game.
“For us we just got so inspired,” coach Jenny Hilt-Costello said. “That’s why I think we were able to make a comeback win today…we grinded it out.”
Long Beach’s luck first started to change when sophomore Sadaf Sadeghvaziri outplayed her opponent in two sets 6-3, 6-2. With one win in the books, the team’s play started to shift.
The next domino to fall came from junior Natalia Munoz, who got her singles win after a close second set. Following that sophomore Lalita Devarakonda was able to clean up her game and win her match after three sets.
Most of Long Beach’s games are dictated by three core players: Munoz, Devarakonda and freshman Wiktoria Rutkowska. The game against the Rainbow Warriors left the 49ers in murky waters since the team had to rely on its other players, one of which was freshman Emma Bardet.
Bardet was not playing her best tennis prior to this, having a sub .500 record in her last 10 regular seasons matches. The issue was unable to resolve itself in her tournament play after leaving her last two matches unfinished.
Her first singles set ended 5-7, a rough outcome but one that showed her unwillingness to back down. The eagerness to win shined through as she went 6-1 in her second set, showcasing why Hilt-Costello placed her so high up the singles roster.
The third set was where Bardet put her foot down, winning the set after she barraded her opponent with multiple volleys.
“I’m just so happy,” Hilt-Costello said. “It would’ve been easy to fall away when we were down.”