WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – The No. 19 ranked Ole Miss women’s tennis team built a 3-0 lead on the road at William & Mary, but the veteran Tribe came back to snatch a 4-3 win from the young Rebels here Tuesday night in the season opener.
Ole Miss started one junior, two freshmen and three sophomores, one of which played in her first dual match. The Rebels won the doubles point and picked up wins at No. 6 and 1 singles to go ahead 3-0. But, the Tribe answered with four straight wins.
Ole Miss was one game away at No. 5 singles, as freshman Marija Milutinovic held a 5-3 in the third set against Tribe senior Anik Cepeda. Cepeda rallied to win it 7-5 and force the outcome to No. 2 singles, where sophomore Julia Jones dropped a tight match to W&M junior Jeltje Loomans. Jones won a first tiebreaker, but Loomans took the second set 6-3. At 4-4, Loomans won the final two games to clinch the match.
“Obviously it’s extremely disappointing to lose, but we have to give a lot of credit to William & Mary,” head coach Mark Beyers said. “They kept fighting even when they were down 3-0. We will be okay, we just have to learn from this and move on. We are a very talented, but extremely young team. When you are this young, these kinds of things can happen early in the season.”
The Rebels dominated at No. 2 and 3 doubles with 8-0 and 8-1 wins respectively, to secure the first point.
Sophomore Santa Shumilina won her first career dual match for the Rebels, downing Sydney Smith 6-3, 6-2 at No. 6 singles to make it 2-0. Junior Caroline Rohde-Moe, ranked No. 30 in the nation, gave the Rebels a 3-0 lead when she finished off Masha Belaya 7-5, 6-2 at the top spot.
Hope Johnson put the Tribe on the board with a 6-3, 6-3 win over sophomore Erin Stephens and then Leeza Nemchinov defeated freshman Mai El Kamash 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 to get William & Mary within one.
The Rebels will look to rebound as they host the ITA Kick-Off Weekend January 27-28 at the Gillom Sports Center. Ole Miss faces Yale Sunday at 2 p.m. in the first round. Admission is free.
William & Mary 4 #19 Ole Miss 3
Doubles 1. Stephens/Verboven (OM) vs. Belaya Loomans (W&M) 3-6, DNF 2. Rohde-Moe/Milutinovic (OM) def. Nemchinov/Cepeda (W&M) 8-0 3. El Kamash/Jones (OM) def. Johnson/Smith (W&M) 8-1 Order of Finish: 3, 2 Singles 1. Caroline Rohde-Moe (OM) def. Masha Belaya (W&M) 7-5, 6-2 2. Jeltje Loomans (W&M) def. Julia Jones (OM) 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 3. Leeza Nemchinov (W&M) def. Mai El Kamash (OM) 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 4. Hope Johnson (W&M) def. Erin Stephens (OM) 6-3, 6-3 5. Anik Cepeda (W&M) def. Marija Milutinovic (OM) 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 6. Santa Shumilina (OM) def. Sydney Smith (W&M) 6-3, 6-2 Order of Finish: 6, 1, 4, 3, 5, 2
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