April 27, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS - Facing the team who ended its 146-match win streak during the regular season, the No. 1 UIC women's tennis team came out with a vengeance Saturday at North Central High School and took down No. 4 Detroit, 4-1, to advance on to the Horizon League Championship final. The Flames look to claim their 17th-consecutive title as they face No. 2 Youngstown State Noon (CT) Sunday at West Indy Racquet Club.
"The team really played well today to earn a spot in the finals," head coach Shannon Tully said. "No. 1 and 3 doubles came out and got the job done, and it was a real positive that we started singles a point up this time compared to earlier in the season. Our goal was to get on top of them early and we won five out of six first sets and got a couple points on the board at No. 1 and 6. Haley (Craig) and Keti (Mebuke) played very focused and stepped up to get two quick wins, and as things got closer, everyone pulled together for a good team win. I was proud of the girls and we're all excited to have the opportunity to fight for another title tomorrow."
UIC was strong from the start as it was able to take two-of-three doubles wins to capture the first point of the match. Haley Craig and Mariana Palacios continued to dominate at No. 1 as they defeated Elena Strakhova and Valery Kulikovskaya, 8-4, while Natalia Kuvakina and Ann-Sophie Hahn took out Raina Halabi and Chloe Karoub, 8-3, at No. 3 for the point.
Jana Knoppe and Kathryn Sharples also competed at No. 2, but were unable to come out on top of Nino Sujashvili and Irina Slizovskaya as they fell 8-3.
In singles, the Flames picked up a pair of straight-set wins before securing the victory with a three-set win. Craig brought in a 6-3, 6-0 win at No. 1 over Karoub, as Keti Mebuke was able to take down Strakhova, 6-3, 6-3, at No. 6. Kuvakina clinched the win for UIC at No. 3 after coming back in her third set with Julia Fernandes for a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 victory.
Knoppe and Sharples had each of their singles matches go unfinished, as Knoppe was up on Slizovskaya at No. 4 and Sharples was in her third set with Kulikovskaya at No. 5.
The Titans had their lone point of the match come at No. 2 singles, where Sujashvili came away with a 6-3, 6-2 win against Palacios.
In hopes of capturing their 17th-consecutive title, the Flames take on Youngstown State in the Horizon League Championship final at Noon (CT) Sunday at West Indy Racquet Club. The Penguins advanced after taking a 4-2 win against No. 3 Cleveland State in the semifinals.
Due to being moved indoors, the championship match will no longer be streamed on the Horizon League Network.
UIC 4, Detroit 1
1. Haley Craig
(UIC) def. Chloe Karoub (DETROIT) 6-3, 6-0
2. Nino Sujashvili (DETROIT) def. Mariana Palacios
(UIC) 6-3, 6-2
3. Natalia Kuvakina
(UIC) def. Julia Fernandes (DETROIT) 6-3, 4-6, 6-3
4. Jana Knoppe
(UIC) vs. Irina Slizovskaya (DETROIT) 6-1, 6-6 unfinished
5. Kathryn Sharples
(UIC) vs. Valery Kulikovskaya (DETROIT) 6-2, 4-6, 1-4 unfinished
6. Keti Mebuke
(UIC) def. Elena Strakhova (DETROIT) 6-3, 6-3Doubles:
1. Haley Craig/Mariana Palacios (UIC) def. Elena Strakhova/Valery Kulikovskaya (DETROIT) 8-4
2. Nino Sujashvili/Irina Slizovskaya (DETROIT) def. Jana Knoppe/Kathryn Sharples (UIC) 8-3
3. Natalia Kuvakina/Ann-Sophie Hahn (UIC) def. Raina Halabi/Chloe Karoub (DETROIT) 8-3