Bayerlova climbs record books

Fifth-year senior has eighth-most wins in program history

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KHOI VU

Michaela Bayerlova (left) and Maxine Murphy (right) prepare for an incoming serve during an NCAA collegiate tennis match against Stanford, April 10.

SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen sports editor

WSU tennis (6-14, 1-8) returned to a windy Pullman on Friday to play against the top-10 California Golden Bears, falling just short of victory. The Cougs added another loss to the record on a snowy Sunday against No. 17 Stanford.

California

A WSU doubles point set the tone for the match as the Cougs’ top two doubles pairs secured a pair of 6-4 victories. Savanna Ly-Nguyen and Yang Lee beat Haley Giavara and Hannah Viller Moeller 6-4. Michaela Bayerlova and Maxine Murphy beat the No. 33 doubles pair in the nation, Jessica Alsola and Katja Wiersholm, 6-4.

With the doubles point secured for the Cougs, officials stopped the third match. Hania Abouelsaad and Fifa Kumhom were tied 5-5 with Julia Rosenqvist and Erin Richardson.

In singles, Cougar seniors won big while others played competitive matches and came up short. 

“A good fight for sure. And we were proud of how we battled this top-10 team,” Bayerlova said.

The No. 71 player in the nation, Bayerlova, made another mark on the WSU history books, beating No. 92 Giavara to win her 88th game and stand alone in eighth place for the most wins in program history.

Cheers erupted from the energetic Field House bleachers when Bayerlova clinched her straight-set victory. Two people stood out to Bayerlova in the bleachers — her parents made their first-ever trip to the U.S. to watch the final matches of their daughter’s five-year college career at WSU.

“[Having them at the match] is very special. It’s their first trip to the U.S.,” Bayerlova said. “It’s really exciting to have them here and show them around.”

With a 2-1 lead courtesy of Bayerlova, attention turned to Ly-Nguyen on court two.

Ly-Nguyen lost her first set, but battled back over the next two sets to beat the No. 50 player in the nation.

Murphy played three sets but let the No. 103 player in the nation get ahead of her. Abouelsaad and Stefaniia Mikhailova both lost in straight sets. Mikhailova remains in search of her first college win.

With the match tied 3-3, Elyse Tse could have won for WSU. Tse climbed her way to a first set tiebreaker which she unfortunately lost. After losing the tiebreaker, Tse was overpowered in the second set, ending WSU’s hopes to win the day.

Stanford

After an incredibly competitive clash with a top-ten Cal squad, WSU went to battle with the No. 17 Stanford Cardinal on a snowy April day.

With the opponent clad in Cardinal red, the Cougs chose their alternate gray uniforms as their Sunday best.

“Sunday best” did not mean playing the best, as the Cougs lost the doubles point. Bayerlova and Murphy conceded a 4-2 lead to lose 6-4. Ly-Nguyen and Lee lost their doubles match, 6-1.

With the Cardinal taking the doubles point, Abouelsaad and Kumhom’s match was stopped with the pair locked in a 4-4 tie with their opponent.

In singles, all but two Cougs lost in straight sets.

Ly-Nguyen was overpowered by the No. 20 player in the nation, Alexandra Yepifanova, losing in straight sets.

Abouelsaad, Murphy and Kumhom each lost in straight sets. This young group of WSU tennis players are what head coach Raquel Atawo hopes to build around in the coming years. With only one more dual-season match before the summer, Atawo hopes players will stay in shape and engaged with the game.

Atawo said that she does worry a little about not seeing her players for a summer, but encourages them to keep in contact about their daily exercise, practice and mental work.

With her parents again in attendance, Bayerlova won her 89th game of her college career, beating the No. 14 player in the nation, Connie Ma in straight sets. Bayerlova raced off to a 5-1 lead in the first set and never looked back.

“I know our freshmen have improved a ton just from getting to hit with [Bayerlova] every single day, and seeing how she operates every day,” Atawo said. “That’s been a huge asset for our younger athletes.”

Atawo said her goal for the final week of the season is for the players to focus on playing tennis rather than their win-loss record.

“To leave everything on the court. We’re not worried about the outcome. Leave everything between the lines,” Atawo said. “We’re just playing tennis, what we practice day in and day out.”

After beating ranked opponents in consecutive matches, Bayerlova rose 30 spots in national rankings and is now considered the No. 41 player in the nation with her 16-2 record in singles. The doubles pair of Bayerlova and Murphy is nationally ranked as well, debuting at No. 57. 

The Cougs will play their final match of the season against their classic rivals, No. 32 University of Washington (13-9, 4-5). The Cougs take on the Huskies at 1:30 p.m. today at the Hollingbery Fieldhouse. WSU will honor departing seniors Bayerlova and Ly-Nguyen with a senior ceremony at 1:15 p.m., prior to the match.