INDIAN WELLS, Calif.-The No. 4-seeded University of Hawai'i women's tennis team upset top-seeded and 62nd-ranked Long Beach State, 4-3 to advance to the Big West Tournament's championship match on Saturday. The Rainbow Wahine won four of the six singles matches to edge out the defending champions on Friday morning at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
It marked the second time this season that UH has defeated a ranked team after defeating #64 Arizona on Jan. 24 earlier this year. Hawai'i's win over Long Beach State snapped the 49ers' 11-match win streak and marks the first time since 2001 that LBSU will not appear in the tournament's championship match. The 49er's had gone to the finals 15-straight years, winning 12 championships during that span. The Rainbow Wahine improved to 13-9 overall, while Long Beach State fell to 18-5 on the season.
The 49ers captured the doubles point, winning two of the three matches to start the day. UH's No. 2 duo of Cindy Nguyen and Roxanne Resma blanked Maeva Razakasoa and Julie Gerard, 6-0 to begin the match. Then, No. 34 Laura Eales and Hayley Thompson defeated UH's Paulina Petriskova and Klara Pribylova, 6-2 on the No. 1 court to even things at 1-1. Then LBSU's Ebba Unden and Alex Jones won by a break over Sarah Gealer and Marina Hruba, 6-4 at No. 3.
All six singles matches were decided in two sets. Resma defeated Eales at No. 4 in straight sets, 6-0, 6-3 to tie the match at 1-1. But Long Beach State's Thompson countered with a 6-2, 6-2 win over UH's Pribylova. Hawai'i's No. 6 Petriskova then knotted the match again at 2-2 with a 6-2, 6-2 win over the 49ers Sanders. Long Beach State see-sawed ahead with a 6-2, 6-2 win by Gerard over Gealer at No. 3. Hruba won her eighth-straight decision with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Unden to square things up at 3-3. Hruba raised her record to 21-1 overall and 18-1 in dual matches.
The match then hinged on the No. 1 match between Hawai'i's Nguyen and Long Beach State's 82nd-ranked Razakasoa-incidentally, the last two Big West Players of the Year. Nguyen came through in the clutch for the 'Bows in arguably her biggest victory of the season. She took the first set 6-3. Then,in the second set, with a 4-3 lead, Nguyen was able to fend off Razakasoa at deuce to hold serve and go on to clinch the win with a 6-3 win in the second set.
The Rainbow Wahine will now face No. 2-seed UC Santa Barbara in the championship match on Saturday, April 30 at 9:00 a.m. The Gauchos defeated No. 6 CSUN, 4-1 in the semifinals.
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