SFA tops Lamar for the first time since 2004
NACOGDOCHES, Texas – The Stephen F. Austin women's tennis team is two months into the season but it finally was able to play its home opener Wednesday afternoon. The 'Jacks jumped out to an early lead and rode that momentum to a 6-1 victory over Lamar at the Schlief Tennis Complex in Nacogdoches. SFA improves to 13-2 on the season, and remains perfect in Southland Conference play with a 4-0 record, while extending its program-best win streak to 11.
"We were really excited to play Lamar," said head coach Patrick Sullivan. "They beat us 7-0 last season, so the girls were obviously motivated for this one. We came out and got the result we were looking for.
"We're pleased with the 4-0 start in conference play. This team wants to win a regular-season title, and get the highest seed in the tournament. We would like to take this program to its first-ever NCAA tournament appearance. That is a goal this team has set for itself, but we can't become complacent with a 4-0 start. We have to come ready to play every match, and so far this young team has done a good job of being prepared," added Sullivan
The 'Jacks jumped out to a 2-0 lead after sweeping all three doubles matches, and picking up a singles win at the No. 2 position. The Lady Cardinals cut into the SFA lead with their victory at No. 1 singles, but that would be as close to victory as Lamar would get. SFA rattled off four-straight singles victories to close out the match.
SFA recorded straight-set wins in three of the final four matches with only senior Alina Shazhko having to rally from and early deficit to win. Shazhko dropped the first set, 6-3, at No. 3 singles before rallying for a 6-0 victory in the second set. The super tiebreaker was close but Shazhko pulled out a 10-8 decision to close the team's 11-straight win.
"Last year we had the ability to sneak up on folks, but I've been telling the team that with our ranking we are going to get everyone's best shot," said Sullivan. "In a way that can be a bad thing because it doesn't allow for you to have an off match. But, it can also be a good thing because it will get us ready for the conference tournament, and hopefully the NCAA tournament after that."
SFA will look to extend its 11-match win streak Friday when they travel to Natchitoches, La., to face defending conference champion Northwestern State. The match against the Lady Demons is slated to begin at 2 p.m.