Esnal-Olguin pushes closer to the limit to propel team to victory
Melissa Esnal-Olguin entered the second set with a deficit before igniting the flames on her way to a three set power surge 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 over Alex Ion to lift the Lady Tennis Monarchs past Penn 4-3 Sunday afternoon at Folkes-Stevens Tennis Center.
The sophomore used her slice and backhand for open opportunities in which she was able to capitalize on late, leaving Ion visibly and vocally frustrated in the third set. Esnal-Olguin was able to capitalize on that frustration and help Old Dominion (7-3) to remain unbeaten at home.
“It was great having Tony my coach all the way through the match because I felt all throughout the match, chasing the girl. I was always down, and then coming back. Then in the third set, Tony helped me and also knowing that we could still win,” Esnal-Olguin said.
“It’s all about knowing that we could win just gives me energy. And also having all my team up there cheering and all the people that support us helped me a lot. I think that’s what most helps me.”
When asked whether this was one of the best matches she’s ever been apart of in her career, she was unsure but nonetheless very pleased with the valiant support she had to propel her team to their seventh win.
“I’m not sure about that, but I’m really happy about it obviously. It’s also good to know that the team won [because of] one of your points,” Esnal-Olguin said. “Obviously all the points count but you put [up] one of them so that’s great.”
The team was down 3-2 after Diana Ivonava and Juliana Pires dropped their singles contests 7-5, 6-1 to Sol Eskenazi and 6-2, 6-1 to Sonya Latyecheva, respectively.
Nika Khmolovksa took care of business early against Katherine Jania 6-2, 6-4 while Nikol Hristova also handled Stephanie Do in straight sets 6-2, 6-3.
Before Esnal-Olguin’s comeback victory, Ivana Vukovic entered a barn-burner of her own. It took three sets and a rally cry of several deuce and advantage points in the third set to ultimately put Jaime Yapp-Shing away 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 and force the tie at 3-3.
But this was a match not absent of controversy. In doubles play, a line judge appeared to miss a critical call that eventually cost the home pair of Ivanova and Hristova the match at the hands of Eskenazi and Latyecheva 8-6. The play resulted in head coach Dominic Manilla storming the court in outrage, furious at the judge’s lack of attentiveness.
“I know the officials are trying to do their best. I didn’t agree with the call. I let him know,” Manilla said. “He controlled it and he took over and everybody’s trying their best.”
Doubles went into a tie when Pires and Esnal-Olguin paired to beat Jules Rodin and Yapp-Shing 9-7, while Vukovic and Khmolvska dropped an 8-6 pairing to Do and Ion.
While the Lady Monarchs had to battle their way back to a victory Sunday, the contest 24 hours prior was anything but. The day’s prior action was well in hand from start to finish.
The team shook off 13 days full of rust prior to their last match in route to a convincing 7-0 thumping of Richmond Saturday afternoon.
The strong start saw the Lady Monarchs take doubles as Pires and Esnal-Olguin ignited the flames early with an 8-2 win over Melissa Kandinata and Kayta Salas.
Vukovic and Khmolovska made quick work of Emily Gitman and Mariana Arana. Finally, Ivanova and Hristova were up at 7-4 before the match was called.
In singles play, ODU remained on top of their racquet game, sweeping all six matches. Khmolovska took care of Arana in a 6-2, 6-1 victory while Vukovic cruised all over Salas 6-1, 6-0.
Ivanova followed her teammates’ perfect start up with a straight set breeze of her own over Kandinata 6-2, 6-1.
Pires was tested in the second set and escaped with a 6-4, 3-6 (10-8) nail biter over Elizabeth Sims, while Esnal-Olguin walked away with a 6-4, 7-5 “W” column check over Gitman to complete the perfect day.
The Lady Monarchs head out on the road for a four-match stint before returning home Mar. 23 against Virginia Commonwealth.
By. Brian Jerry