A decade ago, Women’s Tennis under Kathy Twist and led by Smaranda Stan claimed Buffalo’s first team MAC Championship in any sport after two years of beating everyone but Western Michigan.
Today, with Stan on staff and led by Twist’s successor Kristen Ortman Maines, UB is back on top of the conference, returning to the final after a runner-up finish in 2016 and topping Miami 4-2 in a match eerily reminiscent of yesterday’s Men’s championship, only with the early leader holding off the comeback attempt.
It feels appropriate for the Bulls, who from Margarita Kotok to Tanja Stojanovska to Chantal Martinez Blanco to Emel Abibula have brought in impact freshmen four years running now and boast a balanced lineup.
Today, they coasted through a doubles point before and up and down singles stretch that at one point saw them trailing in five separate first sets before Abibula and Sanjana Sudhir closed out quick wins for a 3-1 team lead, only a single match away from a championship.
But Mercedes Losada Rubio fell at #4, Chantal Martinez Blanco dropped her second set, as did Tanja Stojanovska after a mini comeback forced a tiebreaker. With only Stojanovksa at #1 and Martinez Blanco at #2 still playing, UB needed one to claim a third set victory for the championship.
Stojanovska didn’t mess around, using an early break to go up 3-1 and ultimately closing out the championship with a 6-2, 6-7, 6-2 win. I’m publishing this immediately, but I have to think the junior will be named to the All-Tournament team, with Abibula and Sudhir making strong cases as well.
The title is the first since 2008 for Women’s Tennis, and UB’s second in two days. We’ll know by mid-week what the NCAA Tournament has in store for the Bulls.