The Maryland tennis team returned to the Junior Tennis Champions Center for a pair of home matches this week. The Terrapins came in 0-1 after losing to Navy in Annapolis on Sunday.
On Thursday, Maryland picked up a dramatic victory over Georgetown for its first win of 2019. But the team couldn’t repeat its success Saturday, losing to George Washington and falling to 1-2 this season.
Thursday: Maryland 4, Georgetown 3
Head coach Daria Panova cited first-game jitters as a main reason for Maryland’s lackluster performance in the opener, but there was no sign of jitters in the Terps’ second match as they took down the Hoyas.
Maryland captured the doubles point, which was a strong suit for the Terps in nearly every match last season. The duo of Millie Stretton and Anastasiia Gevel dominated in their single-set victory, winning 6-1, while new transfer Amber Policare and Zoe Kulkarni won by the same margin. The pair of Eva Alexandrova and Kate Yemelyanenka was down 3-2 when their match was called.
With Maryland up 1-0, they just needed to win three singles matches to secure a victory. With Stretton overmatching her opponent to a 6-1, 6-2 win on Court 3, it seemed likely that the Terps would run away with the win.
But the Hoyas did not back down and turned the match into a back-and-forth affair. Georgetown tied things up when Yemelyanenka fell 7-5, 6-0, and Gevel lost 6-0, 6-4. Alexandrova brought Maryland to the brink of victory with her 6-4, 6-2 win on Court 1, but Policare followed with a 6-2, 7-6 (10-8) loss on Court 5.
All eyes immediately turned to the battle on Court 6 between Kulkarni and Georgetown’s Cecillia Lynham. Lynham won the first set 7-5 and Kulkarni took the second set 6-0, bringing the match to a winner-take-all third frame. Kulkarni easily won the set, 6-2, to clinch victory for Maryland.
Saturday: George Washington 6, Maryland 1
For the second time in three matches, Maryland lost the doubles point. Last year’s succesful duo of Stretton and Alexandrova was finally paired together again, but it ultimately didn’t matter at all. Kulkarni and Policare were routed 6-1 on Court 3 to start the day and not long after, Yemelyanenka and Gevel lost 6-3 on Court 2. Stretton and Alexandrova were down 5-4 when their match was called.
During the singles portion, nearly every Terp struggled against their respective opponent. Policare fell 6-4, 6-1, to Xenia De Lunia and, minutes later, Gevel lost 6-1, 6-3, to Katarina Marinkovikj to put the Terps down 3-0.
The four remaining Terps all need to win their matches for Maryland to get the 4-3 victory, but today would not be the day for such a comeback. Yemelyanenka failed to complete a second-set comeback against Melis Bayraktaroglu and lost her match 6-1, 6-4, to seal the loss for Maryland.
Kulkarni was able to register the only win for the Terps, 6-4, 6-0 against Victoria Kogan. Stretton was tied at one set apiece with George Washington’s Sara Grubac, while Alexandrova was in the middle of her second set against Maria Siopacha when the match was decided.
Saturday’s loss dropped the Terps to 1-2, which is concerning but not cause for worry just yet. There have been some bright spots so far, including the singles play of Stretton and Kulkarni. On the other side, Policare has struggled in the first few matches, although it’s understandable due to the adjustment to life at a new tennis program.
The Terps will face VCU next Saturday on the road and won’t return to College Park until March 1. Playing on the road is always difficult, but it will be imperative for the Terps to find their footing before their season spirals out of control.