PROVO -- The No. 31 BYU women's tennis team (9-5) hosted the rival University of Utah Utes (8-5) on Friday and won 4-3 in the closest match the Cougars have played on their home courts this season.
"Sometimes when things don't go well, you just have to stick with your plan and not deviate," BYU head coach Craig Manning said. "For the most part, we did that today. Utah played well and you have to hand it to them. They came out and jumped on us early and we just weren't into it early. Our two seniors, Lauren Jones and Sofia Holden, were clutch today in singles. Our girls deserve a lot of credit for just hanging in there against a tough team."
The doubles point is usually a lock for the Cougars, but Friday's was a match a bit out of the ordinary. Anastasia Surkova, who was also named the Mountain West Conference Player of the Week Friday for the second time this season, and Jenny Miccoli won their eighth doubles match in a row on court no. 1, but Jones and Holden lost 8-6 on court no. 2 and Kristina Doerr and Jocelyn Jensen lost a close match on court no. 3, 9-8 (2), in Jensen's first dual match of her career. Dolly Chang had soreness in her right shoulder and sat out her doubles match.
On court no. 1 in the singles competition, No. 114 Elizabeth Ferris double faulted the first point of the match and Surkova took over from there to break the first game of the match. She then held serve before Ferris won two games in a row herself. Surkova ad two break points in the next game, but Ferris held on to win the game and keep the match on serve. The match stayed on serve until Surkova was down 40-15 in the 11th game and Ferris double-faulted twice in a row to put the game at deuce. Surkova then won the next two points and stole the game to go up 6-5 in the first set. With Surkova serving for the set, Ferris broke back to send the first set into a tiebreaker. The set went to Ferris after not allowing a single point to Surkova in the tiebreak.
It was Ferris' turn to break the first game in the second set and she went up 2-0 early in the second. Surkova would not back down despite the deficit and broke back to put the match back on serve. At 3-3, Ferris broke again to go up 4-3 and then held to go up 5-3. Surkova held serve, but Ferris still had a chance to serve for the match at 5-4. Ferris held and prevented the upset. However, it still wasn't enough to complete a dual-match upset over the Cougars. Surkova is the fourth Cougar Ferris has played since the start of the fall season, her only loss coming to BYU's Jones in the semifinal match at the BYU Invitational in September.
At the same time that Ferris had a chance to serve in the second on court no. 1, the no. 5 match featured BYU's Holden serving for the match with the same score. Holden was not able to hold serve and seal the Ute's fate in that game and fell behind 6-5 in the ensuing game. With all eyes on her, Holden then had to serve to stay alive in the second set. Maughan had a break point on Holden, but Holden held strong and sent the set to a tiebreak.
Holden was down 4-2 in the tiebreak, but came back to go up 6-4 and give herself two match points. She only needed one as Maughan returned Holden's serve in the net to the cheers of the crowd and crushed Utah's hope of an upset in Provo. Holden's win clinched the dual match win for BYU and ended an exciting and tension-filled night of tennis for the in-state rivals and their fans.
BYU's next match will be Monday at home against the University of Oklahoma at 1 p.m. at the outdoor tennis courts. That match will be followed by a match against No. 50 Oklahoma State on Wednesday at 2 p.m. on the Cougar courts. In case of inclement weather during either match, the match will be moved to the indoor tennis facility adjacent to the outdoor courts. Admission to all BYU tennis matches is free.
No. 31 BYU vs. Utah
BYU wins 4-3
1. Anastasia Surkova/Jenny Miccoli def. Emily Kwok/Cheyenne Reveche 8-3
2. Leigh Walsh/Elizabeth Ferris def. Lauren Jones/Sofia Holden 8-6
3. Andrea Maughan/Karine Bourdages def. Kristina Doerr/Jocelyn Jensen 9-8 (2)
Order of finish:
1, 2, 3*
*clinches doubles point
Utah wins doubles point
1. Ferris (UU) def. Surkova (BYU) 7-6 (0), 6-4
2. Jones (BYU) def. Kwok (UU) 6-2, 6-3
3. Walsh (UU) def. Doerr (BYU) 6-4, 6-2
4. Hayasaka (BYU) def. Reveche (UU) 6-4, 6-1
5. Holden (BYU) def. Maughan (UU) 6-4, 7-6 (4)
6. Chang (BYU) def. Cinthia Saucedo (UU) 6-3, 6-4
Order of finish:
4, 2, 3, 6, 1, 5*
1. Bourdages (UU) def. Jensen (BYU) 8-6
2. Jessica Carter (UU) def. Rana El Derwy (BYU) 6-3