Pitt tennis trounced at Louisville, 6-1


Pitt sophomore Natsumi Okamoto dropped a 6-2, 6-4 decision in the No. 6 singles spot Saturday at Louisville. Courtesy of Pitt Athletics

By David Leftwich | Staff Writer

After finding early season success at home, the Pitt tennis team has now dropped two straight matches on the road.

The Panthers squared off against the No. 49 Louisville Cardinals Saturday and suffered a one-sided 6-1 defeat in Louisville, Kentucky.

Pitt sophomores Gabriela Rezende and Natsumi Okamoto lost the first doubles match of the day by a 6-2 score, then senior Audrey Ann Blakely and sophomore Clara Lucas fell by the same mark. That clinched the doubles portion of the match in favor of Louisville, but the Cardinals were just as dominant in the singles matches.

Competing in the Panthers’ No. 1 singles spot, Blakely lost in straight sets, 6-4, 6-0. She initially managed to hold her serve a few times in the first set. But in the second she had her serve broken in every game en route to the lopsided loss.

Pitt’s Amber Washington put up a better fight in the No. 2 singles spot on court two, but the redshirt senior still fell in a 6-3, 7-5 defeat. Unlike Blakely, she gained momentum in the second set, eventually tying the match at five games apiece. But Louisville junior Mariana Humberg took the next two games to clinch the match.

The Cardinals swiftly defeated the Panthers on courts three and four, with Rezende suffering a 6-1, 6-3 loss and junior Callie Frey falling 6-4, 6-3.

With the overall match already out of reach, Lucas became Pitt’s only bright spot of the day.

After Lucas lost the first set to Louisville senior Olivia Boesing 6-2, it appeared the Cardinals might be on their way to a full seven-match sweep on the day. But Lucas bounced back to take the second set, 6-4, forcing a decisive third set.

The two players went back and forth, and eventually knotted the score up at five. Lucas won her service game and broke Boesing’s serve to come from behind and win the exciting match 2-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Rounding up the action on the singles side, Okamoto failed to follow up on Lucas’ momentum. She lost to Louisville junior Ariana Rodriguez 6-2, 6-4 in the sixth singles position, sealing the 6-1 match victory for the Cardinals.

“It wasn’t our best day on the tennis court but we will focus on the positives like Clara and Natsumi stepping up for us and showing great character,” Pitt head coach Alex Santos said in a press release. “We are already focusing on the next match and trying to make the small adjustments that always make the difference.”

The Panthers will finish their three-game road trip against the Syracuse Orange at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 3, in Syracuse, New York.