After being defanged by Georgia Southern 7-0 in their previous match, the women’s tennis team hoped to earn its first win of the season Saturday on the FAMU tennis courts. It was not to be, as the Rattlers lost 5-2 in a match that was more competitive than the score would indicate.
The overall match hinged on the last two singles matches pitting FAMU’s Zama Mkhize, who won the Lady Rattlers’ lone point in a 6-1 loss to Tulane Jan. 16, against Georgia Southern’s Szilvia Zsakay in No. 4 singles and Andrea Ayala vs. Heather Reynolds in No. 5 singles.
“I think they played well. We’re working ourselves into shape,” said women’s tennis coach James Hargrove. “We have some big time injuries.”
But calling the team’s injuries “big time” would be an understatement as Hargrove is working with a “patched up lineup.”
Asha Jaja, who usually plays No. 1 singles, missed the match with a sore knee and Charlana Brown, who is the current No. 2 singles player, is playing despite chronic back pain following a 2003 weightlifting accident.
The injuries to key players forced Hargrove to insert walk-on Samaria Bailey into the rotation at No. 6 singles and place Ayala at No. 5 singles. Although Bailey and Ayala lost Saturday, Hargrove said the two have “been a breath of fresh air.”
Early in the match, Georgia Southern was primed for a repeat performance of the nil match in the two school’s last meeting following a sweep of all three doubles matches for the first point. However, victories in the No. 1 and No. 2 singles matches by Eka Zvania and Brown respectfully gave the Rattlers life.
The win gave the Eagles their first win of the season, and the first win of head coach Amy Bonner’s career.
“The girls came out fighting,” Bonner said. “I thought they fought hard and worked together. It’s a good way to start off our season.”
While Hargrove was not thrilled with his team’s defeat, he did give credit where it was due.
“They played pretty well,” he said. “We just have to get ready during the season.”
Contact Will Brown at email@example.com.