(Photo by BYU Photo)
Claremont, Calif. – With the match tied 3-3, freshman Samantha Smith clinched at fourth singles to help No. 6 seed BYU women's tennis defeat No. 3 Saint Mary's in the first round of the 2017 West Coast Conference Tournament on Thursday at the Biszantz Family Tennis Center.
"Today was a great overall team effort from top to bottom," BYU head coach Lauren Jones-Spencer said. "The girls stepped up after losing a close doubles point and played some amazing singles today. I'm proud of them and the heart that they showed today."
BYU (9-13) fell behind early after the Gaels (12-8) took the doubles point winning on courts No. 2 and No. 3 while BYU seniors Natella Nabieva and Savannah Ware-Avina earned a 6-4 victory at first doubles over SMU's Emma Critser and Danielle McIntyre.
In singles competition, BYU bounced back with Nabieva defeating Jana McCord on court No. 1, 2-6, 6-1, 6-2. Ware-Avina defeated the Gaels' Jacqueline Pelletier 6-4, 6-2 at second singles and the Cougars took the lead. Sophomore Taylah Beckman won next at the No. 5 slot with a comeback 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Parminder Kaur to help BYU take a 3-1 advantage.
Saint Mary's picked up wins at third and sixth singles with both matches extending to three sets. With the score tied and the match on the line, Smith outlasted Kareena Manji in a grueling three-set thriller, winning 6-7(4), 7-6(1), 6-3 to clinch the 4-3 victory for the Cougars.
With the win, BYU advances to the WCC Tournament semifinals to face No. 2 seed Gonzaga on Friday at 10 a.m. at the Biszantz Tennis Center. Links to live stats can be found on the BYU women's schedule page.