Cayce, S.C. - Behind outstanding performances from its top four singles competitors, the Seton Hall tennis team finished off the 2016 season with a victory, topping Villanova, 4-1, in a BIG EAST Championship back draw match Saturday at the Cayce Tennis & Fitness Center.
The Pirates received singles victories at the No. 1-4 slots, including seniors Hannah Liljekvist (Djursholm, Sweden) and Julia Keenan (Greenland, N.H.), sophomore Luize Strike (Riga, Latvia) and freshman Anna Fajnorova (Bratislava, Slovakia).
The match opened with the doubles point, and the Pirates found themselves in a battle, first winning at No. 2 with Keenan and sophomore Katie Kim (Honolulu, Hawaii), but then losing at No. 1 to draw even. Fajnorova and Thandy Kangwa (Fort Myers, Fla.) came close at No. 3 but fell short, 6-4, giving Villanova the doubles point.
In singles, the Pirates quickly took an edge, earning first-set wins in four of the six matches. Strike, playing at No. 1 singles, finished off Tori Smyth in straight sets (6-1, 6-3) to earn the team’s first point. Then it was Liljekvist’s turn as she cast Victoria Martinez aside with a 6-2, 6-3 straight set win at No. 2 to pull the Pirates ahead 2-1.
As play continued, Keenan, who breezed past Paulina Bajet in her first set, 6-1, was challenged a bit more in the second set, but took care of business with a 6-5 victory to put the Pirates up 3-1.
Play came down to No. 3, No. 5 and No. 6. Fajnorova, who lost the first set at No. 3 singles to Samantha Schafer, roared back with back-to-back 6-3 set victories to clinch victory for The Hall, which defeated the Wildcats for a second time this season.
The Pirates finished the season 10-11 overall with four wins over BIG EAST foes in what has been an ultra-competitive conference that has featured two nationally ranked teams.
The match was the finale for seniors Isabell Klingert (Oberbalbach, Germany), Liljekvist and Keenan and with the latter two earning singles victories in their last collegiate appearance.
RESULTS: SETON HALL 4, VILLANOVA 1
No. 1 Doubles: Tori Smyth & Lindsey Evans (Nova) def. Hannah Liljekvist & Luize Strike (SHU) - 6-3
No. 2 Doubles: Julia Keenan & Katie Kim (SHU) def. Victoria Martinez & Sydney King (Nova) - 6-3
No. 3 Doubles: Linley Busby & Paulina Bajet (Nova) def. Thandy Kangwa & Anna Fajnorova (SHU) - 6-4
No. 1 Singles: Luize Strike (SHU) def. Tori Smyth (Nova) - 6-1, 6-3
No. 2 Singles: Hannah Liljekvist (SHU) def. Victoria Martinez (Nova) - 6-2, 6-3
No. 3 Singles: Anna Fajnorova (SHU) def. Samantha Schafer (Nova) - 3-6, 6-3, 6-3
No. 4 Singles: Julia Keenan (SHU) def. Paulina Bajet (Nova) - 6-1, 7-5
No. 5 Singles: Alexandra Kroguis (Nova) led Isabell Klingert (SHU) - 7-5, 3-3 (unfinished)
No. 6 Singles: Linley Busby (Nova) led Katie Kim (SHU) - 1-6, 6-1, 5-4 (unfinished)
Order of Finish:
Doubles: 2, 1, 3
Singles: 1, 2, 4, 3