The Cal State Fullerton women’s tennis team suffered a gut-wrenching 4-3 loss to the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers on Tuesday.
The match started off well, with juniors Alexis Valenzuela and Camille De Leon dispatching the Cornhuskers’ top duo of Lisa Andersson and Maggy Lehmicke 6-3.
However, the Cornhuskers fought back as the No. 3 seeds of Mackenna Maddox-Herr and Katerina Matysova defeated Sarah Nuno and Danielle Pham 6-3.
With only one match left, freshmen Masako Makiba and Karla Portalatin each needed to secure a win to give the Titans the crucial doubles point.
Up 5-2 and serving for the match, Portalatin and Makiba were broken on serve three straight times, eventually losing 7-5. It was the first of few golden opportunities that the Titans squandered that afternoon.
After the doubles competition, No. 1 seed singles player Alexis Valenzuela was scratched due to an injury. With Valenzuela on the mend, every player shifted up one spot in singles as freshman Caroleen Fararji took over as the No. 6 seed.
Singles play began on the wrong foot as the Titans’ No. 4-6 seeds all lost their respective first sets. Fortunately for the Titans, No. 1 seed Nuno picked up the slack, efficiently defeating Lehmicke by 6-3 and 6-2.
Immediately after Nuno’s match, No. 3 seed De Leon defeated Vasanti Shinde 6-3 and 7-6, giving the Titans a 2-0 edge. CSUF needed to take only two of the four remaining matches to win.
The Cornhuskers answered back with Sydney Harlow defeating Fararji 6-3 and 6-2, and Mackena Maddox-Herr defeating No. 5 seed Pham 7-6 and 6-3, to put them up 3-2 overall.
No. 2 seed Portalatin was able to extend her match against Andersson, winning the second set in a tiebreak by a score of 7-6. Simultaneously, Makiba faced Katerina Matysova, also prolonging her match by winning the second set 6-3.
Portalatin finished off Andersson with a 6-2 third set while Makiba was broken at 4-2 during the tiebreak. Makiba went on to lose the final set 7-6, giving the Huskers a narrow 4-3 victory.
Despite the tough loss, Head Coach Dianne Matias remained optimistic and praised her players’ efforts.
“Today’s match was a great learning experience for us,” Matias said. “We had a freshman (Makiba) who was playing the deciding match. For her to get that is a huge learning experience.”
The Titans will look to get back on track as they face off against the Cal State Northridge Matadors in a Big West Conference matchup Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Titan Tennis Courts.