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BYU tennis: BYU opens WCC play with 4-2 win over Portland

Kate Cusick hits the ball. She won 5-7, 7-6(3), 7-5 on Friday against Portland's Raphaelle Leblanc.
Kate Cusick hits the ball. She won 5-7, 7-6(3), 7-5 on Friday against Portland's Raphaelle Leblanc.
BYU Photo

The BYU women’s tennis team opened West Coast Conference play Friday on the road with a 4-2 victory over Portland.

“I am proud with how the girls fought today,” BYU head coach Lauren Jones-Spencer said. “We had to battle through a tough environment and a good team. Everyone really stepped up and performed well. It's a strong start to our conference play.”

Sophomores Kate Cusick and Polina Malykh at No. 2 doubles earned BYU’s (4-2, 1-0 WCC) first doubles victory of the morning against Portland’s (1-5, 0-1 WCC) Anna Oberg and Lourdes Ramalle. Cusick and Malykh got an early 4-1 lead against the Pilots. Oberg and Ramalle fought back to close the gap, but the Cougars held the duo to get a 6-4 win.

At No. 3 doubles, junior Taylah Beckman and sophomore Samantha Smith defeated Radina Dimitrova and Nina Nikitovic of Portland, 6-3, to win the doubles point for BYU. With two doubles victories secured, senior Mayci Jones and freshman Anastasia Abramyan in No. 1 doubles did not finish their match against Raphaelle Leblanc and Jelena Lukic.

Jones faced Lukic again at No. 1 singles and after losing the first set, 6-3. She returned to win the second, 7-5. The two battled, changing the lead constantly throughout the remainder of the match, but Jones came up short, losing 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 and tying the score at 1-1.

Cusick faced off against Leblanc in No. 3 singles for one of the most intense matches of the day. Leblanc won the first set, 7-5, but Cusick charged back in the second with a 7-6 (3) win in the tiebreaker to send the match to a third set. Tied 5-5 in the final set, both players kept the score back and forth until Cusick finally won the last two games to come back and win 5-7, 7-6 (3), 7-5 and give the Cougars a 2-1 lead.

Abramyan took the first set, playing in No. 2 singles versus Dimitrova, but ultimately fell in a close match, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, and the score was again tied 2-2. At No. 5 singles, Smith put BYU back on top by a point with a solid 6-3, 6-2 win over Nikitovic.

In her first singles match of the regular season, Beckman played the Pilot’s Emily Soares in No. 6 singles. After winning a close first set, Beckman took the second convincingly to earn a 7-5, 6-1 victory and a 4-2 BYU win. The No. 5 singles match of Malykh and Ramalle did not finish.

The Cougars travel to Spokane, Washington, for another WCC matchup against the Bulldogs of Gonzaga. The match begins at 11 a.m. PST. Live stats and live streaming can be found on BYU’s online schedule.