Lincoln, Neb. - No. 38 Aleksandra Josifoska defeated No. 18 Samantha Vickers in a marathon three-set match to bring No. 57 UNLV all the way back from a 3-1 deficit to a 4-3 victory over No. 27 Tulsa in the NCAA first round at the NU Varsity Tennis Courts on Friday.
Josifoska reeled off three straight games in the decisive third set to take a 5-2 lead. Vickers battled back to win the next two games to pull within 5-4, before Josifoska secured the match, 7-6 (8-6), 4-6, 6-4, in a contest that took nearly four hours.
UNLV improved to 20-7 on the season and advanced to the NCAA second round to face the winner of Friday's first-round match been No. 16 Nebraska and Wichita State. Tulsa ended its season with a 19-7 record. UNLV will play on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Tulsa Coach Dean Orford said the top of the UNLV lineup was the difference in a tremendous match.
"I think UNLV absolutely deserved this match. They competed so hard in singles and doubles," Orford said. "It was a really fun match that came down to a position we feel real comfortable with. All credit goes to their No. 1. The top of their lineup really came to play today."
Tulsa won the doubles point with victories at No. 1 and No. 3 to take a 1-0 lead in the match. At No. 1, the team of Vickers and Isaura Enrique posted an 8-1 win over the UNLV team of Lucia Batta and Nives Pavolic. UNLV came back at No. 2 doubles, as the tamdem of Josifoska and Janine Erasmus recorded a 9-7 victory. The point came down to No. 3 doubles, where Tulsa's team of Renata Kuricova and Maria Sant'Anna needed a tiebreaker to edge Ella Bouchier and Iren Kotseva, 9-8 (7-5).
UNLV Coach Kevin Cory said the Rebels had a chance to earn the doubles point, but let it slip away, which led to the late-match drama.
"Tulsa's a heckuva a team. We're a little fortunate. We thought we had a chance to win the doubles," Cory said. "We were up big at No. 3 doubles and we were up at No. 2, so we were a little bit disappointed we didn't get that 1-0 lead going into it. All credit to Tulsa. They battled hard and have a heckuva a team. Dean does a great job there."
In singles play, UNLV evened the match, as Pavlovic posted an impressive 6-1, 6-2 straight-set victory over Tulsa’s Michelle Farley. Tulsa quickly bounced back, picking up straight-set wins at No. 5 and No. 4 singles to take a 3-1 lead in the match. At No. 5, Kuricova cruised to a 6-1, 6-2 victory over UNLV’s Bourchier. At No. 4 singles, Tulsa's Saana Saarteinen enjoyed a 6-2, 6-1 win over Erasmus.
UNLV fought back, pulling to within 3-2 after a 6-3, 6-2 win by Kotseva over Tulsa’s Carol Benito, leaving the matches at No. 1 and No. 2 to decide the match. The Rebels tied the match 3-3 with a win at No. 2 singles, where Batta posted a 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 victory over Tulsa’s Enrique.
Josifkova then completed the comeback with her win over Vickers in a match that took nearly four hours.
No. 57 UNLV - 4
No. 27 Tulsa - 3
NCAA Tournament First Round
Friday, May 10, 2013 (11 a.m. CT)
NU Varsity Tennis Courts
1. Aleksandra Josifoska (UNLV) def. Samantha Vickers (TULSA) (7-6), 4-6, 6-4
2. Lucia Batta (UNLV) def. Isaura Enrique (TULSA) 6-3, 4-6, 6-1
3. Nives Pavolovic (UNLV) def. Michelle Farley (TULSA) 6-1, 6-2
4. Saana Saarteinen (TULSA) def. Janine Erasmus (UNLV) 6-2, 6-1
5. Maria Sant'Anna (TULSA) def. Ella Bourchier (UNLV) 6-1, 6-2
6. Iren Kotseva (UNLV) def. Renata Kuricova (TULSA) 6-3, 6-2
Order of finish (3, 5, 4, 6, 2, 1)
1. Samantha Vickers/Isaura Enrique (TULSA) def. Lucia Batta/Nives Pavolovic (UNLV) 8-1.
2. Aleksandra Josifoska/Janine Erasmus (UNLV) def. Michelle Farley/Saana Saarteinen (TULSA) 9-7
3. Renata Kuricova/Maria Sant'Anna (TULSA) def. Ella Bourchier/Iren Kotseva (UNLV) 9-8 (7-5).
Order of finish (1, 2, 3)