Photo by: Derrick Tuskan
Assistant coach Denny Fafek talks to freshmen Shweta Kumar (middle) and Anu Bhadada, who won at No. 3 doubles.

No. 18 Tritons Drop 5-2 Decision to Nevada in Exhibition Opener

UC San Diego

LA JOLLA, Calif. - The No. 18 University of California San Diego women's tennis program took a 1-0 lead after doubles but ultimately dropped a 5-2 decision to the University of Nevada in its exhibition opener Friday at Northview Tennis Courts.

The contest served as the season opener for Nevada (1-0), a member of the NCAA Division I and Mountain West Conference. The Wolf Pack remain in San Diego to take on the Tritons' Division II and city foe Point Loma on Saturday at noon.

Among several rule changes in Division II tennis this season is that there is only one point to be had from doubles, going to whichever team can grasp the upper hand at the conclusion of those three matchups. In the past, one point was awarded for each doubles contest. On Friday, the Tritons procured that opening point.

Fourth-year senior Ashley Chao (San Diego/Rancho Bernardo HS) and junior co-captain Becky Chou managed a 6-3 victory over Anastaysha Gorbacheva and Marta Ruedas at No. 1. The true freshman tandem of Anu Bhadada (San Diego/Torrey Pines HS) and Shweta Kumar duplicated that score line at No. 3. Another rule change in 2019 is that doubles tilts go to six games, and not eight, to speed up play.

Seniors Alexandra Weil and co-captain Madison Hale, in their fourth season as a doubles pair, succumbed in a tiebreak at No. 2, 7-6 (7-1).

Nevada then rallied to take the match through a 5-1 advantage in singles, winning the first five. Junior Valeria Corral (San Diego/Mater Dei Catholic HS) and Bhadada fell in straight sets at No. 4 and No. 5, followed by Weil as well at No. 2 after a close first-set tiebreaker. The result was clinched for the visitors when Chao lost in three sets to sophomore Lili Fekete at No. 1, 6-2, 2-6, 6-1.

With Nevada having locked up the win, Chou and Kumar's matches at No. 3 and No. 6, respectively, went to 10-point super tiebreakers at one set apiece. Chou was upended, 11-9, while Kumar, who had lost her opening set 6-3 to Gorbacheva before pulling even at 6-4, took the decider by the count of 10-4.

"I was pleasantly surprised how well the girls played," said Liz LaPlante, now in her 40th season in charge of the Tritons. "We've had a lot of rain recently, and haven't had a lot of practice. We've only been back for two weeks (from the holidays). We had a long talk yesterday, and it was nice to see them come out and play with so much confidence.

"To see our freshmen play doubles together and come up with a win was really impressive. I was happy with how well they played. It was a good start to the season. Having Shweta (Kumar) win in singles on top of that was really awesome. Mostly it was the confidence level that was so impressive."

Fourth-year Triton senior Chloe Wight was unavailable due to a slight injury.

UC San Diego will plays its second of three Division I exhibitions next Wednesday, Jan. 23, at future Big West Conference rival Cal State Fullerton. Doubles action at Titan Tennis Courts gets underway at 1:30 p.m. The Titans went a program-best 20-6 during a first-ever run to the Big West Championship finals a year ago.

Nevada 5, No. 18 UC San Diego 2
Jan. 18, 2019 at La Jolla, CA (Northview Tennis Courts)

Doubles competition
1. Ashley Chao/Becky Chou (UCSD) def. Anastaysha Gorbacheva/Marta Ruedas (NV) 6-3
2. Adriana Gergelyova/Roos van Reek (NV) def. Madison Hale/Alexandra Weil (UCSD) 7-6 (7-1)
3. Anu Bhadada/Shweta Kumar (UCSD) def. Melissa Huchet/Selina Turulja (NV) 6-3

Singles competition
1. Lili Fekete (NV) def. Ashley Chao (UCSD) 6-2, 2-6, 6-1
2. Melissa Huchet (NV) def. Alexandra Weil (UCSD) 7-6, 6-1
3. Adriana Gergelyova (NV) def. Becky Chou (UCSD) 6-7, 6-3, 11-9
4. Roos van Reek (NV) def. Valeria Corral (UCSD) 6-2, 6-3
5. Selina Turulja (NV) def. Anu Bhadada (UCSD) 6-2, 6-4
6. Shweta Kumar (UCSD) def. Anastaysha Gorbacheva (NV) 3-6, 6-4, 10-4

Match Notes:
Nevada 1-0
UC San Diego 0-0; National ranking #18; Regional ranking #4
Order of finish: Doubles (1,3,2); Singles (4,5,2,1,3,6)
Exhibition for UC San Diego
Season opener for Nevada
T-2:55 A-45

About UC San Diego Athletics
With 30 national team championships, nearly 150 individual titles and the top student-athlete graduation rate among Division II institutions in the United States, the UC San Diego intercollegiate athletics program annually ranks as one of the most successful in the country. The Tritons sponsor 23 intercollegiate sport programs that compete on the NCAA Division I and II levels and, in summer 2020, will transition into full Division I status as a member of the Big West Conference. UC San Diego student-athletes exemplify the academic ideals of one of the world's preeminent institutions, graduating at an average rate of 91 percent. A total of 80 Tritons have earned Academic All-America honors, while 36 have earned prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships. In competition, more than 1,300 UC San Diego student-athletes have earned All-America honors.

Follow the Tritons
For complete coverage and information regarding UC San Diego Athletics, follow the Tritons online at UCSDtritons.com and through social media on Twitter (@UCSDtritons), Instagram (@ucsdtritons) and Facebook (UCSDtritons). For more information on UC San Diego Women's Tennis, follow on Instagram (@ucsdwomenstennis).

#BigWestBound

More From UCSD
W Tennis