Thailon Wilson, Staff Writer
After starting off the game down 2-0, the Rams rallied in the final two singles matches to win 4-3 against the James Madison University Dukes.
VCU head coach Vivian Segnini said that every match that the Rams play against the Dukes is a tough matchup and she was proud that the team fought through adversity.
“Every match is competitive and having only five players for singles was hard,” Segini said. “So, it’s all credit to them [the players] for having a really good attitude and giving everything they have on the court.”
The black and gold came into this game on a three game losing streak after their 6-1 defeat against Florida Atlantic University on March 12, according to VCU Athletics.
The game started off with three doubles matches which played until whichever team won two out of the three matches got the first point of the game.
The first doubles match went to the Dukes as James Madison freshman Reka Matko and James Madison redshirt senior Daria Afanasyeva beat VCU sophomore Anja Draskovic and VCU freshman Emma Valletta, 6-4.
The second doubles match ended shortly afterwards and the Dukes won another set which secured them the doubles point, and gave them an early 1-0 lead.
Segnini said she spoke to the players before the singles matches began and told them to stay focused on the game right in front of them.
“I just told them to focus on the next point ahead and not to worry about what is happening on the other court,” Segnini said. “I just wanted for them to play well regardless of the final result.”
After a short break, the singles matches began in which opponents faced each other in a best out of three sets style match.
Due to injuries, VCU had to forfeit a match which automatically gave the Dukes another point on game total which made the score 2-0.
This meant that VCU had to win four out of the remaining five total matches in singles to be able to win the entire game.
The first match to end was between VCU graduate student Victoria Smirnova and JMU redshirt senior Kylie Moulin. Smirnova beat Moulin in two straight sets to give the Rams their first point of the match, changing the score to 2-1.
Shortly afterwards, VCU sophomore Yelizaveta Karlova beat JMU sophomore Ines Oliveira in two straight sets to even out the score to 2-2.
JMU freshman Daria Munteanu beat Valletta to give JMU a 3-2 lead which left only two matches remaining.
VCU had to win out both of these two remaining matches in order to win the entire game. In both matches, the Rams were already down a set, so they had to win two sets in a row as well.
Anja Draskovic said that the score total motivated her to stay focused on the task to win.
“There were two matches left and when you see it’s 3-2 down, it’s just more and more motivation to win,” Draskovic said. “We were like, let’s do this not for us, we’re doing this for the team.”
Draskovic’s motivation stayed true to her play because she went on to win two sets in a row which gave the Rams the tying point to make it 3-3.
The game’s result all depended on a final set between VCU freshman Victoria Matasova and JMU redshirt senior Daria Afanasyeva.
Matasova said that she knew the team needed her to win this set in order to win the game.
“I felt a lot of energy from other people,” Matasova said. “I knew my team needed me and I tried to do my best and just fight and play.”
The energy around the courts was eminent in the final rallies between JMU and VCU, but when the last bounce dropped, it was Matasova who had claimed victory for the Rams.
This completed the comeback and VCU won 4-3 against JMU which ended the three-game losing streak.
Segnini said that the team can look at this match as a reminder to stay focused on the game ahead of you.
“Going on the court and focusing on playing well, and not caring about what is the score on the other courts,” Segnini said. “I think that was what they learned today.”
The black and gold will travel to New Orleans to face Tulane University at the City Park Tennis Center in New Orleans, Louisiana on Thursday, March 24.