ORLANDO, Fla. - The James Madison women's tennis team battled through for a 6-1 victory over Ball State on Monday afternoon as the Dukes saw all but one singles dual win go to three sets in Orlando, Fla. JMU earned the doubles point before claiming five of the six points up for grabs in singles play.
JMU improved its spring record to 3-4 while Ball State fell to 7-6 on the season.
The Dukes swept the doubles point with three straight wins. Juniors Jacqueline Palmucci (Aurora, Colo./Cherokee Trail) and Ruxandra Andriescu (Brampton, Ontario, Canada/Turner Fenton) took down Paola Rodriguez and Lauren Pickrel 8-1 at the No. 3 position to take a 1-0 lead in doubles matches, and the freshman-senior duo of Cara Wirth (Reading, Pa./Wilson) and Katherine Bulling (Loveland, Ohio/Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy) sealed the doubles point with an 8-5 victory over Bethany Moore and Kristel Sanders at the No. 2 position.
At the No. 1 position, sophomore Taylor Pinchoff (Sylvan Lake, Mich./West Bloomfield) and junior Michelle Nguyen (Springfield, Va./South County) fought Courtney Wild and Courtney Earnest for an 8-7 (10-6) win to blank the Cardinals in doubles play and give the Dukes a 1-0 lead heading into singles competition.
Heading into single duals, Ball State wasted little time in evening the score as Pinchoff lost to Wild 6-0, 7-5 at the No. 1 position.
Andriescu gave JMU the edge for good when she took down Ayaka Terashi 6-4, 6-4 at the No. 3 position. The win snapped a three-match losing streak for the junior, and she is now 3-4 in single duals this spring.
At the No. 5 position, Wirth quickly jumped out in front of Sanders with a 6-3 win in set one, but Sanders knotted the match with a 6-1 win in set two. Wirth settled in, however, and knocked Sanders off 6-3 in the final set to win her fifth straight singles dual this spring and take the Dukes' third point of the day.
The decisive fourth point came from the No. 4 position as Bulling won over Moore in three sets. The senior fell behind early with a difficult 7-6 (7-6) loss in set one, but battled back to take the second and third sets 6-4. She is now 5-1 this spring in singles matches, all at the No. 4 position.
Senior Megan Douglass (Wilton, Conn./St. Luke's) scored the fifth point for the Dukes with a 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 victory against Ashlyn Rang at the No. 6 slot and improved to 5-3. JMU's final point came courtesy of Palmucci at the No. 2 position. The sophomore fought back from a 6-4 loss in set one to take the second set 6-4 and then sealed the win in a dramatic 7-6 (7-1) set three.
"It was a tough match," says head coach Maria Malerba. "We had to win three of the singles matches, and we managed to win all four of the three-set matches!"
Madison will hit the courts for its final spring break match on Wednesday, March 6. The Dukes take on the Toledo Rockets at 11 a.m. in Orlando, Fla.
JMU 6, Ball State 1
1. Taylor Pinchoff/Michelle Nguyen (JMU) def. Courtney Wild/Courtney Earnest (BSU) 8-7 (10-6)
2. Cara Wirth/Katherine Bulling (JMU) def. Bethany Moore/Kristel Sanders (BSU) 8-5
3. Jacqueline Palmucci/Ruxandra Andriescu (JMU) def. Paola Rodriguez/Lauren Pickrel (BSU) 8-1
(Order: 3, 2, 1)
1. Courtney Wild (BSU) def. Taylor Pinchoff (JMU) 6-0, 7-5
2. Jacqueline Palmucci (JMU) def. Courtney Earnest (BSU) 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-1)
3. Ruxandra Andriescu (JMU) def. Ayaka Terashi (BSU) 6-4, 6-4
4. Katherine Bulling (JMU) def. Bethany Moore (BSU) 6-7 (6-7), 6-4, 6-4
5. Cara Wirth (JMU) def. Kristel Sanders (BSU) 6-3, 1-6, 6-3
6. Megan Douglass (JMU) def. Ashlyn Rang (BSU) 6-3, 1-6, 6-4
(Order: 1, 3, 5, 4, 6, 2)