ORLANDO, Fla. (SMU) – The SMU women’s tennis team fell 4-2 to No. 7 seed USF in the semifinals of the American Athletic Conference Championship Friday evening at the USTA National Campus.
“We competed hard today. It was a very close contest,” head coach Kati Gyulai said.
The Mustangs rallied from a 0-2 deficit to tie the match after recording wins in No. 2 and No. 1 singles, respectively. USF jumped out to an early lead taking the opening doubles point and the first singles match in the No. 5 position.
SMU responded with back-to-back wins from Sarai Monarrez Yesaki and Liza Buss, who both have 21 wins on the season. Monarrez Yesaki defeated Vera Bessonova, 6-2, 6-0, and Buss tied the match with a 6-3, 6-2 victory against Ana Roman Dominguez.
“I am very proud of our effort and attitude,” Gyulai said.
The Mustangs continued to fight and stayed within striking distance forcing a third set in No. 3, No. 4 and No. 6 singles.
Ana Perez-Lopez lost the first set 7-5 to Vanja Klaric, but rebounded with a 6-2 win in the second set before falling 6-1 in the third.
Dasha Sharapova and Mary Wright kept the Mustangs close with their inspired play forcing third sets in both of their matches. Sharapova dropped the first set (6-4) to Juliana Cardoso but then won a tie-breaker (7-6) in the second. With the third set tied at 4-4, Cardoso picked up the next two points to clinch the match for the Bulls. Wright fell 6-3 in the first frame and forced a third after a 6-4 win in the second set. The game went unfinished due to USF already clinching the match.
“I am proud of our three seniors [Macie Elliott, Dasha Sharapova, Mary Wright]. I thank them for their fight and belief in us all season,” Gyulai said.
Three Mustangs finished with 20 plus wins in singles play this season. Sharapova led the team with 23, and Buss and Monarrez Yesaki each finished with 21. Perez-Lopez finished with 19 wins, while Wright earned 18 and Charline Anselmo recorded 15.
SMU finished the season 17-7 and recorded the most wins in a season since 2011 when the Mustangs went 23-6 record and advanced to the Round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament.
The Mustangs graduate Elliott, Sharapova and Wright, but return four (Buss, Monarrez Yesaki, Perez-Lopez, Anselmo) of their top-6. The doubles duo of Monarrez Yesaki and Perez-Lopez will also return as the pair led the team with 16 wins.
“We will go home and get better. We have a great future. I look forward to the next season together,” Gyulai said.