Womens’ tennis posed for success in finals

JOHN GALLAGHER
SPORTS EDITOR

Intent upon improving on their 5-4 overall record, the Lady Barons took to their home Bellview courts on Tuesday, facing visiting non-conference opponent St. Vincent College. The court bore the full force of a characteristically humid Steubenville afternoon, as the Lady Barons celebrated Senior Day both before and after the match.

At No. 1 doubles, sophomore Madelyn Conrad and junior team captain Maria Binette struggled from the start to find the chemistry which has typified much of their fall play thus far. The duo found themselves on the short end of a series of competitive points, leaving their 8-2 pro set loss as an inaccurate reflection of the competitiveness of the match.

The story was different at No. 3 doubles, where sophomore Gracie Hammel gave her senior partner Emmy Mathias a final home doubles match to remember. The pair never wavered during their 8-1 victory, as Mathias’ decisive volleys paired excellently with Hammel’s dominant baseline groundstrokes. In their first season together as doubles partners, Hammel and Mathias have nevertheless displayed all the chemistry of a seasoned pairing.

Juniors Julia Razook and Taranee Karimpour played a tight match from beginning to end at No. 2 doubles. Though they didn’t pull away for the 8-5 until late in the match, the consistent duo rode smart tennis and angled approach shots to the victory, in a match characterized by solid Razor rallies.

Up 2-1 after the conclusion of doubles play, the Lady Barons regrouped for the onset of singles. Conrad’s up and down day continued during singles play, where despite encouraging play late in both sets, she surrendered the 6-4, 6-4 loss.

Her doubles partner Binette found much smoother sailing at the No. 2 singles spot, where after a somewhat-contested 6-3 first set, she ran away with the second, 6-0. It was an encouraging return to form for the junior, who looks on top of her game with the postseason approaching.

At the No. 5 singles spot, Karimpour quickly closed the door on any signs of a St. Vincent upset, after a quick 6-2 first set gave her the lead. The junior improved upon her first set score in the second, keeping her baseline shots low and outlasting a tired opponent down the stretch, 6-1.

After surrendering a marathon match to her Cedarville opponent during her last home match, Razook eyed a much quicker victory on Tuesday. Behind abbreviated service returns and the capacity to finish points at the net, she found victory in the form of a 6-2, 6-3 statement No. 4 singles win.

While Hammel came up just short in her 6-1, 6-4 No. 3 singles loss, Mathias took care of business at No. 6 singles. Playing in her final home match as a Lady Baron, Mathias gave the fans a match to remember, running away with a 6-3, 6-1 victory on the final court. The senior has been the picture of consistency at the No. 6 singles spot during the fall, a trend Head Coach Scott Greve hopes to perpetuate during the postseason.

The victory was the Lady Barons’ sixth on the season, and their final home appearance of the fall. After five-straight away matches, the Franciscan women’s tennis team has its sights set on the postseason, eager to take home a second-straight AMCC Championship.

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