Coming off a season in 2022 that saw Oregon women’s tennis make the NCAA Tournament, expectations were high for the season opener against the Vikings. A small stumble at the start of doubles play was quickly bridled, and the Ducks defeated Portland State for the fifth straight season.
“It’s always good to get that [first win] under your belt,” Oregon head coach Courtney Nagle said as her Ducks (1-0) celebrated a 4-0 shutout win over Portland State (1-1) in their first match of the season on Friday afternoon. “There’s always some first match jitters going into starting the season so it’s always nice to get that first match.”
A hard fought comeback effort from Myah Petchey and Karin Young Oregon earned the crucial doubles point – a tally that seemed to make or break the Ducks’ matches in 2022, and seemingly it may have that same effect in 2023. Down both 1-3 and 2-4 in their match, Young and Petchey rallied to take the set 7-6 in a 7-5 tiebreaking win.
“We just had to stay aggressive and keep our energy up,” Young said. “That seemed to work in the end.”
With Uxia Martinez Moral and Misaki Kobayashi quickly finishing off their opponents 6-3 in their own set, Oregon turned to the Petchey-Young or Sophie Luescher-Ares Teixido Garcia combo to pick up the second doubles match win. Both matches came down to a tiebreaking set. Petchey and Young dialed up a comeback boost to clinch the point and give Oregon a 1-0 lead.
Had Petchey and Young not rallied, it was possible that Luescher and Teixido Garcia would have held on for the cliching point. The duo faced a 2-4 deficit of their own, but came back to force a 13th set and were tied 3-3 when Young and Petchey completed their comeback.
“[Both trailing duos] started to play better and hung in there when they needed to,” Nagle said. “Once they got down 3-1 they turned things around and finished nicely.”
As Portland State’s Nika Beukers and Makoto Ohara became increasingly frustrated with the Ducks’ comeback, Petchey and Young continued to apply pressure and force the Vikings to make mistakes.
“In doubles you have to try to keep your energy as much as possible, especially in the team format,” Young said. Oregon’s energy got louder as Portland State’s became spoiled as they blew leads in two of the doubles matches.
With an early 1-0 lead, the Ducks needed just three singles wins to clinch their first victory of the season – and they got them without losing a set. All six Oregon players won their first sets without allowing more than three points. Young, who was a 2022 All Pac-12 Honorable Mention as a freshman, swept her set 6-0 while Martinez Moral and Teixido Garcia collected 6-1 wins to get ahead early.
Young then walked through her second set as well, defeating Nell Arendt 2-0 (6-0, 6-1) and bringing Oregon’s lead to 2-0. Young had an incredible year playing primarily from the No. 4 spot last season, and picked up right where she left off in the same slot to start her year 1-0.
“I was trying to take the ball early and stay aggressive,” Young said. “Obviously there’s going to be some nerves with the first match, but I think I did a good job handling the nerves.”
Teixido Garcia made a short work of Elizabeth Strongina. In the No. 3 spot, she used a 6-3 win in her second set to polish off a sweep of Portland State’s Russian freshman. Her victory put the Ducks ahead 3-0 and in prime position to finish off the Vikings and start the season unbeaten.
Martinez Moral – who was by far Oregon’s most energetic player on the court – capped off the shutout with her 6-2 second set win over Portland State’s Emily Rees. It clinched the 4-0 win for Oregon and gave the Ducks a non-conference win to start 2023.
Oregon went 15-9 last season and boasted four shutouts. Nagle said she believes this year’s team is ever better than the last, and the season opening shutout sure backs her case.
The Ducks return to action on Sunday against Seattle University (1-2, 5-13 2022) at 11 am at home as they look to continue their hot start to 2023.