UW 4, (72) WSU 3

Tara Simpson beat Amy Toth 7-6(4), 0-6, 6-2 in the decisive singles match as the Washington women's tennis team ended a miserable ten match losing streak with a 4-3 win over #72 Washington State on Sunday afternoon at the Nordstrom Tennis Center.

With the victory in the dramatic four hour and ten minute marathon the Huskies improved to 2-11 while the Cougars dropped to 11-9.

Playing second singles, Simpson and Toth played the full three sets after Simpson won the first and Toth the second. Simpson looked like she would have no problem securing the first set when she won four of the first five games and still led 5-3 and served for the set. However, Toth won the first point on a forehand winner into the deuce corner and then Simpson double faulted and committed a backhand unforced error to give Toth triple break point at 0-40. Simpson saved one with a forehand drop volley winner but Toth converted the next break point on a forehand return winner into the ad court. Toth then won the next two games, holding for a 5-5 tie and breaking Simpson to go up 6-5, winning a 16 point, five deuce battle in the process. Toth had her own opportunity to serve for the set, but after winning the first point on an errant Simpson backhand, lost three straight points to give Simpson two break chances for a 6-6 tie and a tiebreak. Toth saved one with a forehand winner, but lost the next on a forehand unforced error.

In the tiebreak, Simpson and Toth split the first six points, but then Simpson won three in a row to go up 6-3 and seize three set points. Toth saved one with a service winner but Simpson finally claimed the set on a forehand unforced error by Toth.

Toth won the second set easily 6-0. According to Husky head coach Jill Hultquist, "Toth got on a roll and Tara played into her game a bit." In the opening game of the third set, Simpson got broken on her serve but then came back to win four straight games, including two on service breaks, to take a 4-1 lead. Toth got one break back to make it 2-4 and had a chance to hold for 3-4, but she again faced a break point at 30-40. Simpson got the break and a 5-2 lead on probably the point of the match when she ended a terrific volley exchange with a backhand winner. Simpson then closed out the match and Washington's first win since February 3 against Portland when Toth committed four unforced errors.

After the match ended on an errant crosscourt forehand by Toth, Simpson, showing no emotion win or lose, merely walked to the net to shake hands with Toth. Following the match Simpson said, "I just got lucky."

The key to winning the match for Washington was winning the doubles point. Doubles did not begin on a good note for the Huskies when the Cougar duo of Ekaterina Burduli and Marjolein Van de Ven beat Simpson and Monika Kolbovic 8-4 at the second position. The Huskies evened the doubles at a match apiece when Stephanie Svanfeldt and Melinda Wong beat Bianca Selaru and Aleksandra Stefanova 8-6 at the third position. That brought the doubles point down to the top match between Victoria Brymer and Dinka Hadzic of the Huskies and Maria Ring and Toth of the Cougars, In a seesaw match the Huskies won the first two games, but the Cougars won five of the next six to go up 5-3.

After the Huskies tied the set at 5 all, the Cougars regained a two game advantage at 7-5. Hadzic held serve for the Huskies to make it 6-7, but Ring still had a chance to serve for the set and earn the doubles point for Washington State. They had a match point but lost it when Toth netted a forehand volley. Then the Huskies had a break point for a 7-7 tie but Hadzic overhit what looked like an easy putaway backhand volley well beyond the baseline to bring the game back to deuce. Ring netted a forehand to give the Huskies another break point and they converted it when Brymer smacked a backhand return winner.

In the next game Brymer held to give Washington an 8-7 lead, but not without some controversy. On Brymer's first serve of the game the Cougars called the ball out, but the chair umpire overruled their call, awarding the point to the Huskies, much to the disgust of the Cougars and some partisans, who resorted to calling the umpire a "homer" and some other off-color names. On subsequent shots hit out the partisans continued to mock the umpire, "Those are good too right?"

If the Cougars were rattled by the overrule, it did not show in the next game as Toth held serve for 8-8 and a decisive tiebreak. However, the Cougars played the tiebreak as if they still had that call in their heads as the Huskies dominated, winning seven of eight points and finally finishing the one hour 45 minute match on a service winner by Hadzic.

In singles, after the Cougars tied the match at 1 due to a default at the sixth position, Brymer looked like she definitely had momentum from the big doubles win as she steamrolled through Aleksandra Cekic 6-0, 6-1 at the third position and gave Washington a 2-1 lead. Wong then put the Huskies up 3-1, using a break in each set to defeat Stefanova 6-4, 6-4 at the fifth position. Those victories, coupled with Hadzic winning the first set against Burduli in the top match and Simpson taking the first set against Toth, made it seem like the Huskies would win the match without much difficulty. However, after Toth forced a third set against Simpson, the Cougars rallied to tie the match at 3. Burduli won the second and third sets against Hadzic 6-3, 6-1 and Van de Ven beat Svanfeldt 6-1, 6-4 at fourth singles.

The Huskies return to the court when they travel to Texas, first to face the 15th ranked Texas Longhorns and former coach Patty McCain on Saturday, April 1 and then the 22nd ranked Texas Christian Horned Frogs on Sunday, April 2.

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