Trailing 3-1 with three singles matches yet to be completed, things looked bleak for the Elon University women’s tennis team. But two Phoenix wins left the match to be decided on court No. 5, where junior Maria Camara Ruiz pulled through to give her team a dramatic 4-3 win over Appalachian State University April 1 at the Appalachian Tennis Courts.
Camara Ruiz was in the driver’s seat after winning the first set, 6-1, but senior Jessica Thaggard of the Mountaineers took the second set, 6-2, to even it up at one set apiece. In the decisive third set, Camara Ruiz trailed, 4-3, but stormed back and won three straight games to win the match for the Phoenix.
Camara Ruiz’s win was preceded by wins on courts No. 2 and 5 that kept the match alive for Elon. First was senior Frida Jansaker’s 6-3, 6-4, victory over sophomore MacKenzie LaSure that cut the Appalachian State lead to 3-2. Sophomore Taylor Casey followed with a win of her own on court No. 6 to tie the match, 3-3. Casey won a 7-2 tiebreaker to take the first set, 7-6, and captured the match with a 6-1 second set win over freshman Megan Mullen.
The Phoenix got off to a slow start on the doubles courts, leading to Appalachian State taking a 1-0 lead. Mullen and sophomore Brianna Armellino began play with an 8-5 defeat of Elon’s Casey and senior Bryn Khoury. Senior Jordan Johnston and junior Barbora Lazarova were able to get one back for the Phoenix with their tiebreaking win over LaSure and freshman Gabrielle Wreder, but sophomore Clare Cox and freshman McKayla Zupan were able to clinch the doubles point for the Mountaineers by defeating Camara Ruiz and Jansaker, 8-6, on court No. 2.
Khoury earned Elon’s first point of the day on court No. 4, where she topped Armellino, 6-2, 6-2. The Mountaineers’ advantage was aided by wins on courts No. 1 and 3, which saw Elon’s two Southern Conference Player of the Week winners lose their respective matches. Johnston and Lazarova, both winners of the award in the past month, came out on the losing end, but the team’s rally avoided Elon’s third loss in its last four matches. Instead, the Phoenix improves to 10-6 and 4-1 in the SoCon, while Appalachian State falls to 5-15 and 1-6 in the SoCon.
The team will continue its four-match road trip this weekend, April 5-6, with a pair of matches against Samford University and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. The first match will be played at 10 a.m. April 5, when the Phoenix will take on Samford in Birmingham, Ala.