NORFOLK, Va. - The James Madison women's tennis team took today's match to the wire, but fell in dramatic fashion to UNCW in a three-set final dual. The Dukes lost 4-3 to the Seahawks in a neutral-court match played in Norfolk, Va.
Tied at 3-all, junior Jacqueline Palmucci (Aurora, Colo./Cherokee Trail) went up 1-0 on UNCW's Alyssa Ritchie in the No. 2 singles slot with a 6-3 win in set one. Ritchie rallied 6-4 in set two, sending the match to a winner-take-all set three. The duo battled, but Ritchie used her momentum to win 10-5, collecting the point and the match-win for the Seahawks.
The Dukes started the day well by winning the doubles point after successive victories by JMU pairings. Senior Katherine Bulling (Loveland, Ohio/Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy) and freshman Cara Wirth (Reading, Pa./Wilson) dispatched Kelly Cameron and Miller Hales 8-1 to put the Dukes ahead, and the sophomore-senior duo of Taylor Pinchoff (Sylvan Lake, Mich./West Bloomfield) and Michelle Nguyen (Springfield, Va./South County) secured a 1-0 point lead for Madison after defeating Angie Sekely and Olga Blank 8-4.
UNCW rallied in singles play, however, taking a 2-1 advantage following Sekely's 6-2, 6-1 win over Pinchoff and Cameron's 6-3, 6-3 victory over Nguyen. JMU would not stay down for long, as Bulling swept Blank 6-2, 7-5 in the No. 4 spot to knot the match 2-2.
Christina Riley (UNCW) put the Seahawks back on top with a 6-2, 6-4 defeat of junior Ruxandra Andriescu (Brampton, Ontario, Canada/Turner Fenton) to put them one win away from taking the match. Wirth, however, battled to a three-set victory (3-6, 6-4, 6-4) over Christine Kharkevich to take the match to the seventh point.
JMU is now 1-1 for the spring season, both overall and in league play. As the match was UNCW's first on the spring slate, the Seahawks have a 1-0 record in Colonial Athletic Association match-ups.
The Dukes will return to the courts on Saturday, February 16 when they face Howard University in Annapolis, Md. The duel is set to begin at 6 p.m.