Southern Methodist Athletics
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – For the second day in a row, No. 27 SMU found itself in a fierce battle with top-ranked opponent, but this time the Mustangs came out on top with a thrilling 4-3 win against No. 33 Ohio State in a four-hour marathon match at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend in Knoxville, Tenn.
With the score deadlocked at 3-3, the match came down to No. 2 singles where sophomore Edyta Cieplucha faced No. 125 Kelsey Haviland. Cieplucha claimed the first set in a tiebreaker 7-6(5) before falling in the second set 6-2. With the decision still hanging in the balance late in the third set, Cieplucha held serve to move ahead 6-5 and then, down love-30, broke Haviland’s serve by winning the next four points to claim the victory.
”What a great win and what a tremendous effort by the team again today,” said head coach Lauren Longbotham Meisner. “I knew we would be sore and tired and they could have given me any excuse in the book why they couldn’t play today, but they didn’t. I am very proud of how we represented ourselves and SMU with our play this weekend.”
Beginning the day with doubles, the Mustangs lost the doubles point for the first time this spring, grabbing their only victory at the No. 2 position.
The SMU duo of Ashley Turpin and Shazoda Hatamova fell 8-3 to Kara Cecil and Noelle Malley at No. 3, but moments later Heather Steinbauer and Cieplucha evened things with their 8-5 win against Haviland and Gabby Steele.
With the opening point still up for grabs, Marta Lesniak and Aleksandra Malyarchikova appeared to have SMU in good shape to take the early lead, but the pair failed to close out a three-game lead and lost to Paloma Escobedo and Cami Hubbs 8-6.
As play shifted to singles, SMU evened things at 1-1 in a hurry after Malyarchikova made quick work of Malley at the No. 5 line 6-1, 6-1. The Buckeyes surged ahead when Hubbs downed Turpin at No. 6 in straight sets 6-1, 6-2.
Lesniak, the nation’s No. 2 singles player, pulled her team even again at 2-2 when she fought off Escobedo at the No. 1 singles spot 6-4, 6-2. From there the match stayed deadlocked at 2-2 until Steinbauer grabbed her win at No. 3. The junior transfer from Vanderbilt came out strong and quickly gained the advantage with a 6-2 first set win. Cecil regrouped and grabbed an early break in the second set and then was able to hold off Stenbauer in a second set tiebreaker 7-6(5).
As play moved to the third set, Cecil appeared to keep the momentum she gained in the second set and took an early 2-1 lead. Steinbauer soon pulled even on her serve at 2-2 and then grabbed total control of the set by taking the next four games for the win. After dropping the first set 6-1, Hatamova surged back to win the second set 6-2 but her momentum ran out and she was ousted in the third set by a score of 6-2.
The 3-3 tie did not last long though as just moments later, Cieplucha’s hold and break sealed the victory for the Mustangs.
With the victory, Meisner moved into a tie for second place with Barbara Camp on the all-time career coaching wins list with 86. The sixth-year head coach still holds the all-time SMU record for winning percentage at .782 (86-24).