File Photo by Pat Radigan
- Claire Reifeis ran her record to 10-2 in singles play with an upset of No. 61 Shiori Fukuda in the last match on court
- Katerina Matysova improved to 10-0 in doubles play and 9-1 in singles
- Nebraska beat a top 20 team for just the fourth time in school history
Story by Pat Radigan
No. 29 Nebraska runs record to 10-2, improves to 3-2 against ranked opponents
It had been almost five years to the day since the Nebraska women’s tennis team took down a top 20 foe.
The Huskers weren’t willing to let it wait any longer.
Using an upset in the final match of the day, No. 29 Nebraska snuck out a 4-3 win on the road at No. 19 Ohio State to open Big Ten play. The decisive points came from sophomore Claire Reifeis, who took down No. 61 Shiori Fukuda 6-2 in the third set at No. 2 singles, and allowed the Huskers to improve to 10-2 on the year.
The last time Nebraska beat a top 20 team came via an upset of No. 7 Northwestern on Mar. 10, 2013, with a win over No. 15 Northwestern in 2012 serving as the last time the Huskers beat a top-ranked foe on the road.
Reifeis was one of two Huskers to earn upsets wins. Vasanti Shinde added a 7-6, 6-4 win over No. 103 Olivia Sneed, which tied the score 3-3, and set the stage for Reifeis to complete the comeback. Katerina Matysova was the other Husker to win in singles action, and powered her way to a 6-3, 6-3 win on court 5 as the second singles match to finish.
|No. 32 Sanford/Fukuda||6|
|Del Cueto Castillo/Lashway||2|
|No. 123 Anna Sanford||6||6|
|No. 61 Shiori Fukuda||3||7||2|
|No. 103 Olivia Sneed||6||4|
|Paula Del Cueto Castillo||4||3|
|Mary Beth Hurley||6||7|
It started with the doubles point, and a foreshadowing of what was to come.
Shinde and Matysova teamed up to roll to a 6-1 win at No. 3 doubles. The victory improved the team’s record to 9-0 in doubles action this season, and set the stage for the upperclass duo to steamroll their way to straight set singles wins.
On court 2, Reifeis and Hayley Haakenstad had a much tougher time with their set. Ohio State rolled to a win on court 1, which meant the doubles point would come down to the No. 2 matchup. Reifeis and Haakenstad were pushed to a tiebreaker, and even then it went beyond the seven points as the two teams stayed within a point of each other.
Nebraska took the doubles point when Reifeis/Haakenstad won the tiebreaker 10-8.
The drama carried over into singles play for Reifeis, when the fate of the dual again came down to the action on court 2. Reifeis raced out to a 6-3 win in the first set against the highest-ranked Buckeye, but fell victim to an early deficit in a second set tiebreak. Fukuda won the tiebreaker 7-2 to take the momentum back.
It wouldn’t stay on her side of the court very long. Refeis broke serve at love to go up 2-1 in the third set. Although Fukuda was able to answer with a break of her own, Reifeis took a 3-2 lead with a third-consecutive break as Fukuda’s swing sailed long on a deuce point.
That streak of service breaks came to an end as Reifeis took control of the set with an emphatic hold. The sophomore from Indianapolis served her way to a 40-0 lead, then went ahead 4-2 two points later.
Fukuda would not win another game. The win moves Reifeis to 10-2 this season, including 4-2 at No. 2 singles, and makes her the only Husker to have finished her singles match in every dual so far this season.
Although Reifeis helped deliver the final blow in both doubles and singles, the drama wasn’t contained to court 2. Shinde had to hold in the first set to force a tiebreaker, which she won by a narrow 7-5 margin, then survived the second set for her second upset this year. A decisive deuce point gave Shinde the 6-4 win on her final look at a match point before Sneed would have evened the set.
But instead, Shinde added a win over the 103rd-ranked player after knocking off Wichita State’s Sandra Honigova in Nebraska’s 4-3 win over the Shockers earlier this year. Honigova is currently ranked one spot ahead of of Sneed at No. 102 in the Mar. 6 rankings from the ITA.
The steady hand in singles was Matysova, who was in control seemingly the entire time in her straight set win. Matysova, a senior from Erding, Germany, is now 8-1 in singles play to go with the perfect doubles record.
After 12 duals in 40 days to open the 2018 slate, Nebraska will now have more than a week off before Big Ten play resumes. Michigan State comes to Lincoln next Friday in NU’s conference home opener, with No. 37 Michigan giving Nebraska another ranked matchup to look forward to.
Nebraska fell to No. 4 Vanderbilt and No. 24 Virginia (current rankings) on the opening weekend of the year, but have bounced back to beat No. 23 Wichita State and No. 31 Kansas State before Wednesday’s upset.