After years of waiting, Michigan State women's tennis stormed onto the court with fans in their corner.
It was the first time the MSU tennis facility has welcomed fans back for women’s matches in a long time, and coaches and players alike spoke of the importance they had in helping them grind out the 5-2 win on Sunday afternoon.
“I think without them, who knows where this match goes?” Michigan State women's tennis Head Coach Kim Bruno said. “Our backs were against the wall most of that match. We were coming from behind. It is great to be at home and be able to do that.”
The Spartans started out the morning losing the doubles point to the Blue Demons as doubles pairing graduate student Mary Lewis and senior Maja Pietrowicz along with doubles freshman Charlotte Gisclon and sophomore Marlo Schiffman dropped their matches. Senior Nicole Stephens and sophomore Ayshe Can won their match.
However, the loss proved to be meaningless as the Spartans stormed back, winning five of the six possible singles points.
Pietrowicz, Stephens, Can, Gisclon and senior Lauren Lemonds all won their singles matches.
Most of the games could be compared to heavyweight battles, as Lemond’s and Gisclon’s wins took three sets to finish and Pietrowicz managed to pull off an electrifying comeback in the second set, taking the set seven to five, and the game along with it.
Although she completed the comeback herself, she did have some help in pushing through the adversity.
“It felt great but honestly Nicole helped me through a lot of it,” Pietrowicz said. “She was one of the people that I was looking at the whole time. She was just telling me, ‘You got it, you can do it,’ but in the end it just felt good to pull out a win.”
Pietrowicz’s comeback was sweet, but the team getting the win instead of just her was sweeter, especially since they lost their last matchup against the Blue Demons.
“We did lose the last time we played against DePaul, they’re a super gritty team and they deserve everything but at the same time we came out and showed them what a Spartan is,” Pietrowicz said.
Although most of the games were tightly contested, Stephens dominated in both her doubles and singles matches, sweeping them both in straight sets, even though she says that it didn’t exactly feel like a sweep.
“It did not feel like a sweep at certain points. Definitely the first set getting down love to 40 at four all was really tough so pulling out that deuce point and getting up five to four in the first was a game changer for me,” Stephens said. “It felt great though, it always feels good to win a doubles match and a singles match in straights.”
This is the Spartan’s first win of the season as they lost their previous match to Notre Dame 6-1. Stephens spoke on the feeling of bouncing back after a tough road loss and how they got their first win of the season.
“It feels good. It always feels good,” said Stephens. “I think our team really came together this match especially after a tough one to Notre Dame and losing the doubles point. We all really bounced back in singles. I don’t think you could tell on any court that we were down zero to one at any point. Everyone really came out and, like Maja said, showed them what it means to play for this school.”
Although the Spartans got the win, they still have things that they have to fix up before their weekend matches. Pietrowicz shared her thoughts on what she needs to improve on before next weekend.
“Definitely my serve. I had so many double faults,” Pietrowicz said. “I was just shaking every time I went up on the deuce side. It is in the past and something of course that I can of course improve but also just to keep a more level head.”
The Spartans need to take it one game at a time and not get ahead of themselves, or else they will end up in a spot they do not want to be in as they enter the heart of non-conference play.
“Next weekend is going to be tough,” Bruno said. “Xavier and Virginia Tech, that is not easy, and then we have Arizona mid week.”
Although they can’t get too ahead of themselves, this win can be a key building block for their confidence starting out this season.
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“Hopefully the girls know that they can build some confidence off when your back is against the wall and things are not going your way,” Bruno said. “Tennis is not always pretty but I think they still have a better level so we have to see that next week and build some confidence from this week.”
The Spartans will be back in action this Saturday in Cincinnati against Virginia Tech.
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