Lady Demons edge Techsters in nailbiter

DECISIVE DEMON: Viktorie Wojcikova clinched the doubles point and scored a match-ending three-set singles win to lift Northwestern over Louisiana Tech, 4-3.

JOURNAL SPORTS

NATCHITOCHES – Fitting of a matchup of the two winningest women’s tennis programs in Louisiana this spring, Thursday’s collision of Northwestern State and Louisiana Tech came down to the final point. 

Delivering the winner, on the 19th stroke of the point, was Viktorie Wojcikova, who squeezed out a doubles tiebreaker early in the 4:06-long battle, then gutted out a tenacious No. 6 singles triumph to give Southland Conference champion NSU (14-4) a 4-3 victory against visiting Louisiana Tech (17-5).

Wojcikova crawled away from a 4-4 third-set tie to top Tech’s Ilana Tetruashvili 5-7, 7-5, 6-4 in a three-hour epic. 

“I just believed I could win,” said an exhausted Wojcikova, who was screened in the third set for heat-related illness. “(Tetruashvili) gave me nothing for free, and she had a couple of match points in that second set, so either of us could have won. 

“I knew that I trailed most of that second set, but I was just trying to win every ball and focus on myself.” 

The rest of the matches were completed by the time Wojcikova finished a second-set rally by winning the final three games. Both teams stood alongside Court 6 at the Jack Fisher Tennis Complex, sweating out the entire decisive set as Wojcikova and Tetruashvili traded six straight service breaks.

“The way that Vikki came through today in doubles and singles was phenomenal,” said NSU coach Jonas Brobeck. “In a match like this, there shouldn’t be a loser, but there’s no tie in tennis and I’m happy we’re on the good side.”

Wojcikova and her partner Rozalie Dohnalova delivered NSU the doubles point via a 7-6 (6) tiebreaker against Tiffani Nash/Najah Dawson. 

The NSU tandem fought off a Tech rally by winning the final two points of the tiebreaker to secure the doubles point. The Lady Demons led 5-3 at No. 2 doubles before Tech won three straight games to help force the tiebreaker. 

“We were just trying to play simple and aggressive, and it worked,” Wojcikova said. 

Northwestern finished its regular season with nine straight wins, which included a 6-0 Southland Conference slate that garnered the program’s first regular season title since 2014. The Techsters have two Conference USA weekends left.

“I’m super proud of these girls and how we competed and problem solved,” said Brobek. “It’s great to pull one out against a very good Louisiana Tech team, a gritty and hard-working bunch.” 

Opening the match contesting the doubles point, NSU’s No. 3 pair of Ayu Ishibashi/Patrycja Polanska notchee a 6-2 win before Tech’s No. 1 pairing of Olga Bienzobas/Leonie Schuknecht topped Tjasa Klevisar/Mariella Minetti 6-2. 

The Lady Demons and Techsters went back and forth in singles, trading points as NSU clutched to a 3-2 lead. 

Needing both points to capture its first win in Natchitoches since 2015,  Tech picked up the equalizer on No. 2 when Bienzobas overcame a first-set defeat to beat Klevisar 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. Klevisar stormed to a first-set win before Bienzobas steadied, winning five of the last seven games in the second set and the last two games in the third set. 

“It is tough to lose when it comes down a matter of points and that is the way the day went for us,” said Techster coach Amanda Stone. “We had opportunities for the doubles point, but even after losing it we still had chances to win four of the singles.  We needed to step up and execute when it really mattered.  That was the difference between a win and a loss.” 

Photo by CHRIS REICH, Northwestern State