April 19, 2012
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Yilian Zhang rallied back from a first-set deficit to record a 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 victory over UAB's Menanteau Moolman in a No. 5 singles match to lift East Carolina to a 4-3 win in opening round action of the 2012 Conference USA Women's Tennis Championship Tournament Thursday afternoon at the Dunavant-Wellford Tennis Center.
The eighth-seeded Lady Pirates (10-15) advance to face No. 1 Tulsa Friday, while the Blazers complete their season with a 6-12 mark.
In addition to securing East Carolina's team triumph, Zhang's victory halted a furious UAB comeback that erased an early 3-0 deficit. The Blazers' Rachel Daniell outlasted Neena Wanko 6-3, 5-7, 7-5 in a No. 3 meeting to deadlock the match and set the stage for Zhang's match-clincher.
After tallying the doubles point, the Lady Pirates extended their lead to 3-0 on Renata Bakieva's 6-3, 6-3 win over Isabel Fernandez at No. 2 and Natalie Collins' 6-2, 6-2 decision over Paula Alvarez at No. 1. The Blazers used straight-set victories by Caroline Faught (6-4, 6-4) and Sarah Witkowski (6-3, 7-5) over Danielle Terpko and Abby Richmond at the No. 4 and No. 6 slots, respectively, to pull to within one.
Bakieva and Collins handed Faught and Witkowski an 8-3 setback in a No. 3 doubles matchup to break a 1-1 pairs tie and push the ECU into a 1-0 advantage. Terpko and Zhang produced the Lady Pirates' first tandem triumph by rolling past Alvarez and Fernandez by a similar 8-3 count.
The win over UAB marked the fifth-straight season that the Lady Pirates opened C-USA Championship play with a victory and mirrored 2008 and 2009 first-round dismissals of the Blazers.
No. 8 EAST CAROLINA 4, No. 9 UAB 3
No. 1 - Natalie Collins (ECU) def. Paula Alvarez (UAB) 6-2, 6-2
No. 2 - Renata Bakieva (ECU) def. Isabel Fernandez (UAB) 6-3, 6-3
No. 3 - Rachel Daniell (UAB) def. Neena Wanko (ECU) 6-3, 5-7, 7-5
No. 4 - Caroline Faught (UAB) def. Danielle Terpko (ECU) 6-4, 6-4
No. 5 - Yilian Zhang (ECU) def. Menanteau Moolman (UAB) 2-6, 7-5, 6-1
No. 6 - Sarah Witkowski (UAB) def. Abby Richmond (ECU) 6-3, 7-5
No. 1 - Terpko/Zhang (ECU) def. Alvarez/Fernandez (UAB) 8-3
No. 2 - Daniell/Moolman (UAB) def. Dana Gray/Wanko (ECU) 8-5
No. 3 - Bakieva/Collins (ECU) def. Faught/Witkowski (UAB) 8-3
Team Records: UAB 6-12, East Carolina 10-15