May 14, 2010

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – All year long, the Virginia Commonwealth University women's tennis team left everything out on the court and surprised their opposition all year to the tune of a 20-4 record.

In the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, the Rams left it all out on the court once again, but this time, they came up just short in a 4-3 loss to 36th-ranked UNLV at the Chapel Hill Regional.

"I knew going in that we were pretty evenly matched with them," Head Coach Paul Kostin said. "We played them last year so we knew most of their players. They're a solid team and we just came up a little short today. I'm very proud of the toughness the girls showed all season long."

For only the fifth time all year, VCU dropped the doubles point with the Runnin' Rebels picking up wins at the top two doubles positions. UNLV's Adrien Hidvegi pushed the lead to 2-0 after dispatching senior Laura Burns (Hertford, England), 6-3, 6-3. It was only the third loss of the spring season for Burns.

"We've been relying on Laura all spring and she's stepped up every time," Kostin said. "Unfortunately today she ran into a buzz saw at #4 and couldn't really do much about it."

Junior Kateryna Yergina (Kiev, Ukraine) (left) got VCU on the board with a decisive 6-1, 6-2 victory over 101st-ranked Jana Albers at the number three spot.

After the Runnin' Rebels got a win at #2 singles to push the lead to 3-1, senior Olena Leonchuk (Kiev, Ukraine) and sophomore Alex Bara (Oradea, Romania) evened the scoreboard with wins at #6 and #5 singles, respectively.

"Olena and Alex have been great for us at the back end of the lineup all year. That's been the key to our season is the depth that we have. Once again, it kept us in the match today," Kostin said.

With the match tied at 3, sophomore Ana Bara (Oradea, Romania) locked into a battle with 45th-ranked Kristina Nedeltcheva at #1 singles. Bara dropped the first set 6-1, but bounced right back with a 6-1 win in the second set. Nedeltcheva jumped out to a 4-1 lead, but Bara showed her toughness by getting back within one at 4-3 and 5-4. That was the closest she would get as Nedeltcheva finally closed it out 6­-4 to push the Rebels into the second round.

The loss marks the end of the career for Leonchuk and Burns, who both finish their careers ranked in the top-10 in singles wins at VCU. Leonchuk tallied 87 wins for third all-time, while Burns' 65 wins ranks her 10th all-time.

#36 UNLV 4, #25 VCU 3

1. #62 Nedeltcheva/Albers (UNLV) def. Ana Bara/Hjertquist (VCU), 8-2
2. Maskaljun/Razina (UNLV) def. #76 Burns/Yergina (VCU), 8-4
3. Alex Bara/Leonchuk (VCU) def. Hidvegi/Pavlovic (UNLV), 8-1
Order of finish: 3, 1, 2

1. #45 Kristina Nedeltcheva (UNLV) def. Ana Bara (VCU), 6-1, 1-6, 6-4
2. Nives Pavlovic (UNLV) def. Josefin Hjertquist (VCU), 6-4, 6-2
3. Kateryna Yergina (VCU) def. #101 Jana Albers (UNLV), 6-1, 6-2
4. Adrien Hidvegi (UNLV) def. Laura Burns (VCU), 6-3, 6-3
5. Alex Bara (VCU) def. Anna Maskaljun (UNLV), 7-5, 6-2
6. Olena Leonchuk (VCU) def. Rumyana Terzieva (UNLV), 6-3, 6-3
Order of finish: 4, 3, 2, 6, 5, 1

February 13, 2010 RAMS ROLL PAST TEMPLE, 7-0