CHICAGO – The nationally-ranked University of Akron tennis team closed out the regular season on Sunday with a 4-3 loss in non-league competition to UIC at the Flames Outdoor Tennis Courts. The defeat brought an end to the Zips' (21-3) seven-match win streak, while the Flames (16-3) won for the 14th-consecutive time.
Akron, listed No. 75 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings and a winner in nine of its last 11 matches, finished Mid-American Conference play on Saturday with a 7-1 record thanks to a 7-0 win at Northern Illinois. That victory solidified the squad as the No. 2 seed in this week's conference tournament. The Zips are the event's defending champion and have earned a bye into Friday's quarterfinal round to be held in DeKalb, Ill on the Northern Illinois campus. UA will face off against seventh-seeded NIU on Friday at 3 p.m. ET (2 p.m. CT).
Today, UA opened play by dropping two of three doubles contests to give up the early point for just the fourth time this season. After Zips Ksenia Berestetska and Natalia Kuvakina lost 8-3 at No. 3 to Jana Knoppe and Linda Hricistova, UA's Angelika Jogasuria and Prang Pantusart won 8-4 at No. 1 over Mariya Kovaleva and Haley Craig. Teona Tsertsvadze and Elisa Simonetti clinched the early one-point lead for UIC when they downed Angelina Jogasuria and Olga Shkundina 9-7 at No. 2.
The Zips pulled ahead 2-1 in the team scoring with a 6-3, 6-2 win at No. 1 by Shkundina over Kovaleva, and a 6-3, 6-2 victory by Kuvakina over Kathryn Sharples at No. 6. The Flames then won in order at No. 5, 4 and 3 to clinch match point.
At No. 5, Knoppe defeated Angelika Jogasuria 3-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10). No. 4 was decided by a 7-6 (4), 6-3 score as Simonetti topped Berestetska. Angelina Jogasuria lost 7-5, 7-6 (4) at No. 3 to Craig.
Pantusart provided UA's third point courtesy of a 7-5, 5-7, 1-0 (4) win at No. 2 over Tsertsvadze.
"We knew going in that this was going to be a tough match, against a very good UIC team," Padgett said. "We played without our top player today, and it hurt us in both doubles and singles. We certainly never want to lose a match, but this was excellent preparation for the conference tournament as several of our players were forced to play up a flight."
Zips Notebook: Akron entered today's match with a 3-0 all-time record versus UIC ... UIC was the fourth Horizon League opponent for UA this season as the Zips shut out Wright State (Feb. 4), Cleveland State (Feb. 12) and Youngstown State (Feb. 12) ... all three of the Zips' losses this season were by a score of 4-3 ... freshman Olga Shkundina closed the regular season with a 21-2 record in dual-match singles play ... Shkundina played at the No. 1 singles flight for the second time this year and improved to 2-0 when doing so ... Akron is the No. 2 seed in the MAC tournament for the third-straight season.
UIC 4, No. 75 Akron 3
1. Angelika Jogasuria/Prang Pantusart (Akron) def. Mariya Kovaleva/Haley Craig (UIC) 8-4
2. Teona Tsertsvadze/Elisa Simonetti (UIC) def. Angelina Jogasuria/Olga Shkundina (Akron) 9-7
3. Jana Knoppe/Linda Hricistova (UIC) def. Ksenia Berestetska/Natalia Kuvakina (Akron) 8-3
1. Olga Shkundina (Akron) def. Mariya Kovaleva (UIC) 6-3, 6-2
2. Prang Pantusart (Akron) def. Teona Tsertsvadze (UIC) 7-5, 5-7, 1-0 (4)
3. Haley Craig (UIC) def. Angelina Jogasuria (Akron) 7-5, 7-6 (4)
4. Elisa Simonetti (UIC) def. Ksenia Berestetska (Akron) 7-6 (4), 6-3
5. Jana Knoppe (UIC) def. Angelika Jogasuria (Akron) 3-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10)
6. Natalia Kuvakina (Akron) def. Kathryn Sharples (UIC) 6-3, 6-2
Order of finish:
Doubles – 3, 1, 2
Singles – 1, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2
Akron – 21-3
UIC – 16-3