May 1, 2011
YPSILANTI, Mich. -- With a Mid-American Conference Championship on the line, Miami and Akron went toe-to-toe as could be expected. But in the end, the Zips rallied from early deficits in the deciding matches to upset the top-seeded RedHawks 4-3 at Ypsilanti High School. The loss was the first in 33 matches against league oppnents for the two-time defending champions.
The RedHawks finish their season 19-6, with the senior class of Anastasia Dracheva, Megan Martzolf, Cara Wald and Sydnee Bridger posting a four-year record of 67-27. The championship was the first for the No. 2-seeded Zips.
Miami lost the doubles point for the first time in 12 matches, dating back to March 7. Stephanie Danesis and Martzolf cruised to an 8-3 win at No. 1, seizing control by taking five straight games after a 2-2 tie. Jessica Parr and Riekie Honiball fell 8-2 at No. 2, leaving to point to the No. 3.
Anastasia Dracheva and Cara Wald fell behind 4-1 but closed to within 6-5. Wald was serving, but was broken for the third time in as many attempts, allowing the Zips to take control. They held for an 8-5 win and a 1-0 lead in the match.
The RedHawks evened the score at 1-1 when Danesis won 6-1, 6-4 over Angelika Jogasuria at No. 2. The junior trailed 4-3 in the second set, but seized an opening when she broke at 4-4. Minutes later, the Zips went back ahead when Zara Harutyunyan rallied past Dracheva at No. 1 Miami's senior led 4-2, but the league's Player of the Year captured the next nine games. Dracheva broke and held to close the gap to 6-4, 5-2, but couldn't complete the rally.
Miami won the next two matches to go up 3-2. Honiball posted a 6-3, 6-2 victory at No. 5 before Nimisha Mohan tallied a 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 win at No. 5.
The championship drama built as the remaining two matches went to third sets. Martzolf dropped her opening set to Prang Pantsuart 6-3, but rallied for a 6-3 win in the second, while Wald started with a 6-4 win over Natalia Kuvakina before the Zips' No. 6 player pulled even at 6-2.
Martzolf bolted to a 4-0 lead in her final set before she started losing steam. Pantsuart won the next six games, breaking three times to win the decisive set 6-4, evening the match at 3-3. Meanwhile, Wald won her first two games, but lost five in a row to trail 5-2. She held and then broke to close to 5-4 but was broken to end the rally.
Danesis and Mohan were named to the all-tournament team for their efforts during the weekend.