ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Navy women’s tennis team (19-3, 3-0 Patriot League) rallied from one match to win the doubles point, before taking three of four singles contests to secure a victory 4-1 over rival Army (18-8, 2-1 Patriot League) in Saturday’s Star Match at the Tose Family Tennis Center.
Navy has now won two of the last three Star Matches against the Black Knights, as well as victories in three of the last five meetings between the two service academies.
Kacey Moore (Sr., Wellington, Fla.) paced the Midshipmen’s effort against the military, teaming up with Samantha Johns (So., Simpsonville, SC) to earn a two-run win at No. 3 doubles, before winning the match for the Mids with a straight-set victory in the No. 2 singles competition over Caroline Vincent of the Black Knights ( 6-1, 7-5). Additionally, with her singles victory over Vincent, Moore moved into a tie for the fourth most career singles wins in program history (68).
“I think I can speak for coach Ale (Pedergnana) on this one, we are really happy for the team,” the head coach said. Keith Puryear. “The ladies have worked so hard to represent the Naval Academy and our team in a positive way, they are making huge sacrifices to achieve this, I am so happy for them.”
“Also, our seniors have been the heart and soul of this program since they stepped foot on campus,” Puryear continued of his Moore senior class, Katreina Corpuz (Sr., Ewa Beach, Hawaii) and team captain Meghana Komarraju (Sr., Vienna, Virginia). “All three have started since they were plebs, and this was the first year we could hold an N-Star match for them. To get a win in their first and only N-Star match to be held here at academy, I’m so happy for them. I know how much they wanted it, not just for them and the team, but for the naval academy itself. These three, and our team in general, wanted to show the academy what Navy Women’s Tennis is all about.”
A loud, packed crowd filled the Tose Family Tennis Center in what turned out to be an action-packed Star Match. The Black Knights struck first to open the doubles game, as the No.1 duo of Vincent and Stephanie Dolehide beat Corpuz and Komarraju (6-1), to put Army on the verge of an early lead over the Mids.
However, the contenders responded by leveling the ledger at one game apiece when Moore and Johns beat the Black Knights’ Paola Bou and Sophie McKenzie (6-4) in Game 3.
The double point and an early 1-0 lead would fall in Navy’s favor moments later, as Casey Accola (Jr., Winter Garden, Florida) and Emilie Tannenbaum (Fr., Commack, NY) earned a two-point decision in doubleheader #2 (6-4) over Paige Herremans and Cooper Jackson.
“They (the Army) are two-time Patriot League champions for a reason, so we knew they weren’t going to give us anything today,” Puryear said of the Black Knights effort. “Meghana (Komarraju) and Kat (Corpuz) came out very quickly, but they had a few opportunities that they couldn’t take advantage of. They participated in a few matches, but ended up losing them and that turned the momentum in favor of the army. It was pretty close at first. It eventually resulted in doubles #2 and #3.
“At double No. 2, I thought they (Casey Accola and Emilie Tannenbaum) did the reverse of what happened with Kat and Meghana. They played a little nervous in the first and second game, but they did a good job recovering the break and getting back into the game. What I really liked was that they didn’t get discouraged, they just kept going and stuck with the game plan until they were able to close it. At No. 3, Kacey (Moore) and Sam (Johns) had actually played together a lot last year, but really hadn’t teamed up at all this year. They played very well throughout their match, finishing quickly by keeping the pressure on the No. 2 team in the army, which helped earn the victory at the No. 2 position.
After falling behind Navy in doubles, Army quickly responded in singles with their second win of the competition, a straight-sets decision in favor of Herremans over Accola (6-4, 6-1) in Game 6. to tie the score a 1-1.
The contenders responded moments later at the No. 3 position, taking a 2-1 lead over the Black Knights, as Komarraju beat Jackson in straight sets (6-3, 6-3), before adding a another point to their ledger. at the No. 4 position as Corpuz beat Bou (6-2, 6-3) to put the Mids on the brink of victory.
The Star and a three-point win over Army would be secured in favor of Navy in Game 2, as Moore earned a straight-set victory over Vincent (6-1, 7-5). The senior opened the match with a five-point decision in the first set, before erasing a five-point deficit in game two to secure the Mids victory.
“In singles, I think Meghana and Kat did a great job of righting the ship and played really good solid tennis to get wins at three and four,” Puryear remarked of the rebounding effort from Corpuz and Komarraju singles. “Kacey (Moore) was a warrior today, she won the first set, before (Caroline) Vincent did a really good job changing momentum in the second set and ended up serving for the set. did a very good job of going back to the original game plan we had in the first set and slowly kept going back.”
Two singles matches, Contests No. 1 and No. 5, would remain unfinished as Tannenbaum and Stella Ribaudo (So., Chicago, Ill.) went no decision, despite admirable efforts by both in their respective contests.
Tannenbaum won the first set of the No. 1 competition, 6-4, before battling Dolehide in the second set to take a 6-5 lead after trailing by two points earlier in the match. Ribaudo fell in the first set of the No. 5 competition, 7-5, before bouncing back with a 6-4 decision over Justine Dondonay in the second game to force a deciding third set. The contest ultimately remained unfinished with Dondonay leading by two points in the third set.
“The ones I mentioned were all our wins, but it was a total team effort for us,” Puryear remarked of the remaining singles matches. “I think Stella (Ribaudo) did a really good job, she had a few chances to extend her lead in the first set but couldn’t do it, but bounced back to win the second game to force a third set Casey (Accola) had a tough first set, second set Paige (Herremans) did a good job taking the momentum she gained to close out this game.
“Emily (Tannenbaum) did a great job getting to No. 1 as a plebeian, that’s a big deal and a big ask, against Dolehide who is an All-Patriot League performer. She played admirably, but Dolehide did a good job of fighting back and recovering things before the match was decided with Kacey (Moore).”
Following his Star Match victory over the Army, the Navy is set to return to action on April 9 as it welcomes Howard to Annapolis for a non-conference contest. The game will also serve as a senior day for the Mids, as they will honor their three-member senior class of Corpuz, Komarraju and Moore in a pre-game ceremony.