RIVERSIDE, Calif. - The UC Irvine women's tennis team finished its Big West regular-season schedule on a high note as it defeated UC Riverside, 6-1, for its second-straight road win Thursday afternoon at the SRC Tennis Courts.
The 'Eaters cruised through doubles play and never looked back. They took the early lead as senior Cassidy Branstine and freshman Stephanie Nguyen ran the table against Sophie El-Kara/Natalie Penner, 6-0, at No. 3.
Freshman Constance Branstine and sophomore Stephanie Hazell then secured the doubles point with a 6-3 triumph over Karla Dulay/Tamilla Vaksman at the No. 1 spot. Junior Vivien Dvali and senior Hali Dickson were also up 5-3 in their match that went unfinished.
"It was a great team win today," UCI interim head coach Elizabeth Ferris said. "It always takes some pressure off when you win the doubles point. The players that got a lead never let up and the ones who were down found ways to claw back into the match. I like how we saw some players taking more calculated risks."
Constance Branstine set the tone in singles with a dominant 6-1, 6-2 victory over Dulay at the top of the lineup. Cassidy Branstine then got herself back on the winning track by dispatching Wolfe, 6-1, 6-4, on court four. Junior Ashlynn Hall followed suit, delivering her second consecutive dual-clinching win as she upended Penner, 6-4, 6-2, at No. 6.
Dvali (5-7, 6-3, 10-8) and Hazell (5-7, 6-4, 10-4) each bounced back from a narrow first-set loss to win their matches at Nos. 2 and 3, respectively. Nguyen, who was in the singles lineup for the first time since April 2, dropped a tough 7-6 (4), 7-5 decision to Vaksman at the fifth position.
"The match was tough, but it was a great overall win for our team," Stephanie Hazell said. "The energy of the match today was awesome."
The Anteaters improve to 5-16 overall and 2-6 in conference action, while the Highlanders fall to 5-12, 0-7 Big West. UCI is also now 17-0 in its all-time series with UCR.
UC Irvine will head to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (NCAA DIII) for its regular-season finale on Saturday, April 22. The non-conference match is slated for a 1 p.m. start.
UC Irvine 6, UC Riverside 1
1. Constance Branstine (UCI) def. Karla Dulay (UCR): 6-1, 6-2
2. Vivien Dvali (UCI) def. Sara Khattab (UCR): 5-7, 6-3, 10-8
3. Stephanie Hazell (UCI) def. Tracy Van (UCR): 5-7, 6-4, 10-4
4. Cassidy Branstine (UCI) def. Lauren Wolfe (UCR): 6-1, 6-4
5. Tamilla Vaksman (UCR) def. Stephanie Nguyen (UCI): 7-6 (7-4), 7-5
6. Ashlynn Hall (UCI) def. Natalie Penner (UCR): 6-4, 6-2
Order of finish: 1, 4, 6*, 2, 3, 5
1. Co. Branstine/Hazell (UCI) def. Dulay/Vaksman (UCR): 6-3
2. Hali Dickson/Dvali (UCI) vs. Van/Wolfe (UCR): 5-3, unfinished
3. Ca. Branstine/Nguyen (UCI) def. Sophie El-Kara/Penner: 6-0
Order of finish: 3, 1