OLD WESTBURY, NY – The University of the District of Columbia women's tennis team upended the five-time reigning East Coast Conference champion New York Institute of Technology, 5-4 in its 2017-18 season opener Friday afternoon at NYIT Tennis Courts. The Firebirds, who were the last ECC team to beat the Bears when they did so in the 2011 ECC Finals, halted the perennial powerhouse's 31-match conference win streak with today's win.
UDC (1-0, 1-0 ECC) won the No. 2 and 3 doubles matches and the No. 4, 5 and 6 singles matches to claim the upset victory over an NYIT team that was last year's No. 1 ranked team in the East Region and this year's ECC preseason favorite. The Bears fell to 1-1 overall and 0-1 in league play with the loss.
In doubles play, No. 2 doubles pair junior Paula Avellan and freshman Anastasiia Danylova set the tone for the day with an impressive, 8-5 victory over Antonella Lopez and the reigning ECC Player of the Year Lena Dimmer. The Firebirds' No. 1 doubles pair of senior captain Dominika Hadnadova and junior transfer Anastasia Khomyachenko were defeated 8-1, but UDC's No. 3 pair of sophomore Estefania Castrillon and freshman Florence Clercx came through with a crucial, 8-4 win over Rosa Lacorte and Kaitlyn Byrnes to give the Firebirds a 2-1 advantage heading into singles play.
NYIT's Alessia Rossetti, the 2015-16 ECC Player of the Year who sat out last season with an injury, defeated Hadnadova, 6-0, 6-0 at No. 1 singles to even the score, 2-2, but Castrillon put UDC right back on top, 3-2 with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Lacorte at No. 5. Again the Bears evened the score, 3-3, when Ivana Andric defeated Khomyachenko, 6-1, 6-0 at No. 3 singles, and the preseason ECC Player of the Year, Dimmer, gave the Bears their first lead of the match, 4-3 when she defeated Avellan, 6-2, 6-1.
Needing victories in the remaining two singles matches, two UDC newcomers came through in a big way in their Firebird debuts. Danylova grinded out a 7-6(4), 6-0 victory over Lopez at No. 4, and with the match on the line, Clercx shook off a second set loss to beat Byrnes, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 for the decisive 5th point of the match.
The Firebirds will stay in Long Island, NY to take on another ECC foe, LIU Post tomorrow at 10 a.m.