UB women’s tennis makes regular season history
Bulls beat Ball State to win first Mid-American season title
UB women’s tennis team clinched its first ever Mid-American Conference season title on Friday at Miller Tennis Center after defeating the Ball State Cardinals 7-0. The Bulls won each of its five singles matches without dropping a set and lost only one of three doubles matches in the afternoon.
Head Coach Kristen Maines said she wasn’t surprised with the victory, but was impressed with the consistency the Bulls (15-3, 8-0 MAC) showed throughout the season.
“All of these MAC conference matches are tough, there isn’t an easy conference match, but I’m not surprised because of the way they’ve done every single match and the way they’ve competed this whole conference season,” Maines said. “This team is something special.”
The one tight match of the afternoon came from the third doubles team, featuring freshman Emel Abibula and junior Arianna Paules Aldrey. It came down to a tiebreaker that Buffalo beat Ball State (10-10, 2-5 MAC) with a score of 7-6.
The match was the last home game for senior Tanja Stojanovska and graduate student Lolade Ogungbesan.
Stojanovska, who came to the U.S. from Macedonia, has played for the UB women’s team since her freshman year. She was named an All-MAC First Team for two consecutive seasons. Stojanovska picked up victories in both her second doubles with partner Anna Savchenko and second singles match winning 6-4 and 6-3, 6-0, respectively.
“The team has grown so much and we’ve so much progress since my freshman year,” Stojanovska said. “It means a lot to win regular season championship on Senior Day.”
Lolade Ogungbesan is playing her first season at UB after transferring from an accomplished career at the University of Pittsburgh. Ogungbesan dropped her first doubles match with doubles partner Chantal Martinez Blanco 6-3, but dominated her third singles opponent 6-4, 6-1.
Ogungbesan said she came into the match determined to win and felt a flurry of different emotions after the victory.
“I feel so proud of everyone and all the work we’ve put in towards and I feel like everyone really deserved it,” Ogungbesan said.
Maines said she couldn’t be happier that the seniors finished their regular season with a win.
“Lolade came from the University at Pittsburgh for one year and is outstanding, I’m so happy she got to experience great success here,” Maines said. “And Tanja, it’s fitting because she helped make this team what it is. She’s been a [top] player her whole career and I couldn’t be more happy that she got to finish the season this way.”
The season also marked the 10-year anniversary of the programs first MAC Championship in 2008 and to celebrate the team hosted a “UB Women’s Tennis Reunion” during the match.
Denise Starakiewicz, a member of the 2008 MAC champion team, who attended the reunion, said she thinks the current roster is better than the roster she was on because of its depth.
“I think they grew stronger with this year’s recruit and there’s more diversity,” Starkiewicz said. “From the top to the bottom of the lineup, there isn’t much difference [in skill], and I think that’s what makes the team stronger.”
Maines said the team has to remain focused and become better with each match to win the upcoming MAC championships.
“Anything can happen during the tournament, so they need to be focused and they need to be disciplined and we still need to be focusing on getting one-percent better with each match,” Maines said.
The 2018 MAC Women’s Tennis Championship is set to take place from April 27 to 29 at Ball State University. The Bulls will be entering as the number one seed and will play their first match in the semifinals against the winner of the number four and number five matchup.
Haruka Kosugi is the asst. news editor and can be reached at: email@example.com.