Virginia women’s tennis began dual play on Saturday at ITA Kickoff Weekend in Columbus, Ohio, splitting its two matches against Tennessee and No. 13 Ohio State. The Cavaliers (1-1, 0-0 ACC) defeated the Lady Volunteers (4-1, 0-0 SEC) 4-1 before falling to the Buckeyes (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) by a score of 4-2 in the final.
In the 12 previous face-offs between Virginia and Tennessee, the Lady Volunteers led the series 7-5 — and this narrative looked to continue as the Cavaliers went down early. Virginia lost the doubles point after the duo of senior Rosie Johanson and freshman Emma Navarro failed to complete a comeback against freshman Esther Adeshina and junior Daria Kuczer in a thrilling match that had to be decided by a tiebreak.
However, in the singles matches, the Cavaliers proceeded to turn things around in dominant fashion.
No. 11 sophomore Natasha Subhash and senior Vivian Glozman each defeated their opponents decisively in straight-set victories, giving Virginia a 2-1 advantage in the competition. In her first collegiate singles match, No. 80 Navarro pulled off a win in three sets, 6-4, 5-7, 6-0 — with the third set lasting a mere 20 minutes.
After falling behind early to No. 52 junior Rebeka Mertena, No. 47 Johanson climbed back in the third set to win 4-6, 6-0, 7-5 and seal the victory for the Cavaliers. The 4-1 victory over the Lady Volunteers set up a date between Virginia and Ohio State in the weekend’s championship match — with a spot in the ITA National Team Indoor Championships on the line.
Once again, Virginia fell behind early, with its sole victory in the doubles round coming from a 6-2 win by Johanson and Navarro. Unfortunately, the Cavaliers were unable to overcome the early deficit and came up short in singles play, losing the match to the Buckeyes 4-2.
Notable victories in the singles round came from Navarro over junior Kolie Allen and Glozman over freshman Tanisha Kashyap, both in straight set victories.
On the other hand, Subhash, Johanson and Shaikh struggled in the singles matches, with all three putting up a fight but falling in three sets.
The continued struggles in doubles play for the Cavaliers — while overcome in the game against the Lady Volunteers — will certainly need to be addressed if they hope to contend for an ACC or even national championship. Look for Virginia to rotate its doubles lineups as a tough February ACC slate approaches.
Up next for the Cavaliers is a date with in-state foe Virginia Commonwealth Thursday in Charlottesville. The matches at Boar’s Head Resort are set to start at 3 p.m. and will be livestreamed on VirginiaSports.com