Boiling Springs, N.C. - Gardner-Webb's women's tennis team won every singles match in which it participated on Wednesday, turning the tide with a momentous rally during singles play to knock off Appalachian State, 5-2, at home.
The win snaps a two-match losing streak for the Runnin' Bulldogs (3-6, 0-2 Big South), who won despite falling behind by dropping the opening doubles point versus the Mountaineers (9-3, 2-0 SoCon).
Facing a team in Appalachian State that last week received a Top 75 ranking by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) at No. 65 in the nation, Gardner-Webb quickly found itself behind 1-0 after doubles. At No. 1, Erica White and Jenny Lunde combined to pick up their team-leading sixth doubles win of the season, an 8-4 triumph against Linsell/LaSure. The Mountaineers picked up an 8-2 win of their own thanks to the No. 2 duo Cox/Ansari, and won by default at No. 3 doubles to forge a 1-0 lead early in the match.
The Runnin' Bulldogs continued to face adversity early in singles play. At No. 1, White found herself in a dogfight against the Mountaineers' Ellie Linsell, but managed to win the first set 7-6 (2). GWU's No. 3 player, Lunde, also took it to a tiebreak to win set one 7-6 (3) against Brianna Armellino.
GWU's No. 2, 4, and 5 players found themselves down after set one. Without a No. 6 player, ASU, who owns signature wins over Chattanooga (10-2, 2-2 SoCon) and Charlotte (4-4), would gain another critical point by default, meaning the Runnin' Bulldogs would have to prevail in at least four singles matches to win the overall match at home on Wednesday.
In set two, Lunde was able to finish off Armellino for a 7-6 (3), 6-3 win to get the Runnin' Bulldogs on the board. The junior from Oslo, Norway improved her season singles record to 3-2 with the win. However, Linsell battled White at No. 1, forcing a third set to further GWU's chances of defeating the Mountaineers.
The momentum swung in Gardner-Webb's favor thanks to a trio of second set rallies at No.'s 2, 3, and 4 singles. At No. 2, sophomore Yasmin Dosot (Bray, Maidenhead, England) rebounded to take the second set against Clare Cox by a 6-2 margin, forcing a deciding third set.
At No.'4 and 5 singles, Valeria Popko (St. Petersburg, Russia) and Rokia Sacko (Montreal, Canada) kept the Runnin' Bulldogs' hopes alive, stringing together crucial points when they needed to take the second sets of their matches 6-3 and 6-4 respectively.
Down 3-0 in the deciding third set, Sacko went on a tear, reeling off six straight set wins to take the third frame, 6-3, for a 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory against Gabriela Celi. Sacko's win, her fourth singles triumph of the season, moved GWU within two singles points of winning the team match.
Popko also found herself down 3-0 in the set three against Jennifer Ansari, but the freshman rode the wave of momentum in GWU's favor to complete a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 comeback win at No. 4 singles.
The clinching point came from Doost, who rallied after being down 4-3 in the deciding third frame. The sophomore secured a 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 win over Cox at the No. 2 singles slot, marking her fourth singles win of the season.
With the outcome of the team match already determined, White finished off a 7-6 (2), 5-7, 6-2 win at No. 1 singles, earning her seventh singles win of the season to round out the scoring of GWU's 5-2 home win on Wednesday.
Gardner-Webb had to break a trend to earn its biggest win of the season. Wednesday's win marked the first of the season for GWU when it did not win the opening doubles point.
GWU's women's tennis team will look to carry the momentum forward into its next match, a Thursday tilt at Western Carolina. Tomorrow's match is slated for a 2:00 p.m. start.