NORFOLK, Va. – Norfolk State’s lone senior, Liza Gordeeva, helped the Spartans to a 5-2 victory over Howard on Senior Day at the Norfolk State Tennis Complex on Sunday afternoon.
Jessica Josiah and Hutchinson gave Howard (0-7, 0-2 MEAC) an early lead in doubles, taking a 6-4 victory over the Spartans’ top pair of Gordeeva and Dajana Cvjetkovic.
However, Norfolk State (4-6, 2-1 MEAC) earned the doubles point by earning victories at the Nos. 2 and 3 positons.
Paula Fortuno and Aranza Mellet picked up a 6-4 victory over Howard’s No. 2 duo of Christina Joynes and Olivia Pelham, before Norfolk State’s third duo of Ana Popovic and Bruna Goncalves secured the point for the Spartans with a hard-fought 7-5 victory over Kindha Nasef and Sajela Harlow.
Despite the early lead, the Spartans quickly found themselves in a hole as each of their top three players dropped their opening sets. Nonetheless, Norfolk State forced a third-set tie-breaker in each of those matches.
Popovic dropped her match to Nasef 2-6, 6-3, 0-6 at the No. 3 position, followed by Cvjetkovic who fell to Josiah 3-6, 6-4, 2-6 at the top singles position.
That is when the momentum swung back in favor of Norfolk State, as the Nos. 2, 4, 5 and 6 claimed victories for the Spartans.
They were led by an epic battle between Gordeeva and Howard’s Hutchinson that lasted nearly three hours long. Hutchinson claimed the first set with a 6-2 victory and led early in the second set, before Gordeeva took over the match. She claimed a 6-3 win in the second set before battling to a 7-5 victory in the third and final set that lasted nearly an hour and 15 minutes by itself.
Fortuno earned her team-leading eighth victory of the season with a 7-5, 7-5 victory over Harlow at the No. 4, while Goncalves secured the match clinching point, defeating Joynes 7-5, 7-5 at the No. 5 position.
Despite the match already being clinched, Mellet closed out the Spartans run of four consecutive victories with another three-set thriller. She defeated Pelham 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 at No. 6.
Norfolk State will face Hampton in the Battle of the Bay on Friday at the Neilson-Screen Tennis Stadium at 1 p.m.
Originally published at nsuspartans.com