Women’s tennis struggles at Gator Classic

The top competitors at every level of sports are so because they keep competing at their best until they achieve victory.Natalie Schwartz of the women’s tennis team learned that lesson this weekend at the Gator Fall Classic.

Schwartz lost in the first round of the tournament to Lauren Rookledge of Kentucky 3-6, 6-4, 6-0.

“I think I just let up a little at the end,” Schwartz said. “I could have beat her. I should have beat her.”

After the first loss, Schwartz won the Flight A singles consolation round. She defeated Tania Rivera of Florida Atlantic 6-3, 6-0, then Anna Westin of Central Florida 6-3, 7-5 and Marieke Gunawan of Central Florida in the finals 6-3, 6-4.

“I stayed focused and just kept pushing all the way, I didn’t give up like I did in the first match, that’s what let me win,” Schwartz said. “I just think that I have to get used to playing those types of players that play until the end, the top players are usually just good to the end.”

South Florida doubles also made a splash in the consolation rounds with two teams losing in the finals. Genevive Houle and Jennifer Sinclair lost in Flight A to Shannon Stafford and Amy Trefethen of Kentucky 8-4, and the team of Jamie Larson and Jakie Spicijaric lost to Jessie Pelto and Staci Stevens of Miami 8-4.Houle, who strained her elbow in the Lady Seminole Classic a little more than a week ago, aggravated it again and was pulled out of the singles competition after the first round.

“She’s doing something crazy and funky on her serve,” coach Sherry Bedingfield said. “I pulled her out of singles and had to see her and Jennifer play doubles.”

Houle was pulled out after losing to No. 2 seeded Annika Bengtsson of Florida 6-0, 6-2.

Jennifer Sinclair also lost in the first round of Flight A singles to Mari Toro of Miami 6-3, 6-3.

Patricia Kolendo was the only singles player to win in the first round when she defeated No. 4 Danille Petrisko of Kentucky 6-2, 6-7 (3), 6-2.

Kolendo redshirted last year and is the only freshman on the team.

Also in Flight B, Ashlee Callahan lost to Abby Smith of Miami 6-4, 6-4 and Jamie Larson lost to Krystel Borg of Florida Atlantic 7-5, 6-3.

None of the four doubles teams won a match in the first round of the Classic. Bedingfield said doubles was going to be one of the focal points for improvement in the Bulls practices and last two tournaments before the spring season.

“We still have some issues in doubles to straighten out, doubles always takes the longest,” Bedingfield said. “We’ve got to tune a few things, in doubles we just have to work better.”

In Flight A doubles, Ashlee Callahan and Schwartz lost to Julie Pecastaing and Westin of Central Florida in the first round 8-5, and the pair of Houle and Sinclair lost to Marcy Hora and Toro of Miami 8-1.

In Flight B, Kolendo and Talia Romero lost to Maria Aguirre-Gomez and Alena Dvorakova of FAU 8-0, and Larson and Spicijaric lost to Sihem Bennacer and Sara Robbins of Miami 8-6.

  • Bryan Fazio covers women’s tennis and can be reached at oraclebryan@yahoo.com