Bowling Green State University opened Mid-American Conference play in thrilling
fashion, rallying for a 4-3 win over Western Michigan University Saturday
afternoon (March 22). The match was held at the Perrysburg Tennis Center.
With the win, the Falcons improve to 6-4 overall, while dropping the Broncos to 11-6 in dual-match play.
Senior Nikki Chiricosta broke a pair of school records in the win, while sophomore Katie Brozovich picked up the Falcons' final point with a marathon victory at the third singles flight.
Chiricosta and Brozovich each were double winners on Saturday, teaming up for a win at the second doubles flight, then winning their respective singles matches. The Falcons won at the top-three singles flights, with Chiricosta, fellow senior Emily Reuland and Brozovich picking up those victories.
In doubles play, the duo of Falcon freshmen Hannah Drayton and Harley Hutchison clinched the first point of the match by winning at the third flight.
Chiricosta is now the BGSU career record-holder in a pair of categories: singles wins and combined victories. Her doubles win was the 179th overall victory of her BG career, moving her past her sister on that list. Christine Chiricosta picked up 178 total victories as a Falcon from 2008-11.
Christine's victory total included 89 singles and 89 doubles wins at BG, and Nikki Chiricosta entered Saturday's match with those exact win totals. Her singles victory over Kathleen Hawkins at the top flight gave her sole possession of the school record on that list.
Brozovich's singles match, vs. Meika Ashby, was a back-and-forth roller-coaster ride of emotions for all involved, with each player seemingly in control on several occasions. Ashby won the first three games en route to a 6-3 victory in the opening set, but Brozovich battled back to capture a 6-4 win in the second set.
The third set saw Ashby burst out to a 3-0 lead, only to have Brozovich wrest control by winning five consecutive games. Ashby, seemingly reeling, was anything but, as she proceeded to take nine-straight points.
After that ninth point gave Ashby a 5-love lead with the set tied at five games apiece, Brozovich came back to go ahead by a 40-30 score. Ashby won the next point, but Brozovich took the next two, and the Falcon sophomore had a 6-5 lead in the final set.
Brozovich – the featured Falcon on Saturday's match program – burst out to a 40-love lead, and had match point on three occasions, but Ashby battled back to win the next five points, knotting the set at 6-6 and forcing a tiebreaker.
Brozovich spotted Ashby the first point of the 'breaker, then won the next four points before Ashby pulled out a miraculous shot to halt that run. The Bronco freshman took the next point to cut Brozovich's lead to 4-3. The Falcon soph took a two-point lead, saw Ashby make it a 5-4 score, then won two consecutive points to take the match and give BGSU the overall victory.
Western Michigan still holds a somewhat lopsided lead in the all-time series between the teams. But, after the Broncos won the first 38 meetings, the Falcons now have won two in a row. BGSU picked up a 5-2 win in Kalamazoo on the last day of the 2012-13 regular season to clinch not only a berth in the MAC Championships, but a quarterfinal-round bye.
Saturday's match saw the Brozovich/Chiricosta duo surge ahead to a 3-0 lead over WMU's team of Ashby and Yuriko Ono at the second doubles flight. The Broncos won the next two games, but the Falcons' tandem then reeled off five-straight games for the 8-2 victory.
The number-one flight saw WMU win by that same 8-2 score. Hawkins and Caroline Aleck fell behind Reuland and sophomore Drew Fillis early, but the Broncos tied the match at 2-2 and then slowly pulled away.
Mere seconds after that Western win, however, Drayton and Hutchison put the finishing touches on an 8-4 win over Tracy Kuhle and Nini Sujashvili at the third flight. The Falcon freshman had taken a 3-0 lead and still led, 5-2, before the Broncos battled back. Kuhle and Sujashvili got within 5-4, but Drayton and Hutchison then won three-straight games for the victory in the first conference match of their respective careers.
In singles action, the first three matches to conclude all went Western's way. Kuhle defeated Fillis at the fifth flight, while Ono topped Hutchison at flight number six.
The fourth-flight match saw Aleck defeat Drayton in a tiebreaker in a lengthy first set, then capture the final two games for a 6-4 win in the second set. Aleck's victory gave the Broncos a 3-1 lead, and left the Falcons needing to win each of the remaining three matches.
And, BGSU did just that, although it was not easy. Chiricosta downed Hawkins by a 6-2 score in the first set of their top-flight match, only to see the WMU senior bounce back for a 6-2 win of her own in the second set. But, Chiricosta burst out to an early lead, and never let Hawkins off the mat in a 6-0 third-set win.
Reuland had a somewhat easy opening set, relatively speaking, with a 6-1 win over Sujashvili at the second flight. When the BG senior won the first three games of the second set, it looked like she was well on her way to victory.
Sujashvili, however, won the next game, and the Bronco senior proceeded to capture the next two games to knot the score at 3-3. Reuland forged back ahead, but Sujashvili followed suit. Reuland, however, won the next two games to take the match, tie the overall score at 3-3 and set the stage for Brozovich's heroics.
BGSU takes to the road for a pair of short trips next weekend. The Falcons will head to the Glass City for a Friday (March 28) matchup with Toledo, before venturing across the state line to face Eastern Michigan Saturday (March 29) afternoon. Both matches are scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m.