Women's tennis wins third MAC Championship
Bulls complete perfect MAC season with weekend wins
The Bulls made program history in Muncie, Indiana this weekend winning the Mid-American Conference Championship for the second straight year.
Buffalo (17-3, 8-0 MAC) won back-to-back games after earning a first-round bye as the No. 1 seed heading into the tournament. The Bulls tied the school record for most wins in a season at 17 on Sunday afternoon in the 4-2 win against the No. 2 seed Miami (OH) Redhawks (12-9, 7-1 MAC). Senior Lolade Ogungbesan was the tournament’s most valuable player and senior team captain Tanja Stojanovska was named to the All-Tournament team.
“It is no surprise,” said head coach Kristen Maines. “They had total domination in the regular season and championship. … Tanja and Lolade are the true definitions of champions. They went out there and played with composure and gave it their all. I couldn’t be more proud.”
The Bulls completed their season on a 14-game winning streak and return seven of 10 players for next season. Buffalo will host the MAC Championship next year after winning the MAC regular season title.
“That has been my personal goal: to create a legacy,” Maines said. “Going into this season, I wanted to do things for the program that haven’t been done before. I think back-to-back MAC Championships and a season title are quite a legacy already. We want to show that both women’s and men’s tennis are strong programs.”
On Saturday, Buffalo played No. 4 seed Bowling Green (13-8, 5-3 MAC), winning 4-1 for its 13th straight victory.
“They went after us, but [the Bulls] were just too tough,” Maines said. “Bowling Green did not want to give us that win, but we were just the better team.”
In doubles junior Chantal Martinez Blanco and Ogungbesan won 6-2 at the start of the match. Bowling Green took the third doubles match next, with the second doubles match to decide the point. Sophomore Anna Savchenko and Stojanovska forced a tiebreaker. The duo lost 7-3 with Bowling Green taking the doubles point. It was the first time the Bulls lost doubles since March 30.
Down 1-0 for the match, the Bulls dominated in singles. Buffalo won the first set in five out of six matches to pick up the victory. Stojanovska finished first with a 6-0, 6-2 victory to give Buffalo its first points. In order, junior Arianna Paules Aldrey, Ogungbesan and sophomore Emel Abibula won to clinch the match.
Junior Sanjana Sudhir led 6-4, 4-2 when she clinched, ending her match. This season, Maines said players want to be a part of the four points that clinch the match. In years prior, teammates wondered if someone would finish before them, now they all race to finish first.
The Bulls took on the Redhawks in the championship match for the second consecutive year. Buffalo earned its second straight MAC Championship season with the 4-2 win Sunday afternoon. This is the first season the program won the MAC season and tournament championship.
The second and third doubles pairs of Savchenko and Stojanovska, Aldrey and Abibula each lost 6-2. The Bulls, down 1-0 for the second straight day, had to rebound against a tougher opponent.
“Miami didn’t want to lose at all. They had us fighting from the start,” Maines said. “They got the better of us out there at times, but I knew this team would not let the win go away. From day one, they all thought this was our year and they proved themselves right.”
Blanco won her first set on-court one to start singles play. Stojanovska and Aldrey took theirs on courts two and six, respectively. Aldrey and Stojanovska each won in the second set to give the Bulls a 2-1 lead.
Abibula lost her first set, but rebounded to win 3-6, 6-0, 6-3 to put the Bulls up 3-1. Ogungbesan led 3-0 in her third set and was on track to clinch the match for Buffalo. She went on to win her third set 6-3 and clinch the match for the Bulls.
“I feel true happiness,” Maines said. “I can’t be more proud as a coach for my players. To do it with these incredible ladies just gives me so much joy. We wanted to do something special for UB and today we did it.”