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Three-match weekend against in-state rivals Miami, FIU and Bethune Cookman lies ahead for the Eagles

The Florida Gulf Coast University’s women’s tennis team heads into another busy weekend facing the University of Miami on Thursday. They then play Florida International University on Saturday and Bethune-Cookman on Sunday.
Last weekend, the Eagles experienced both ends of the competitive spectrum at the FGCU tennis complex.
On Friday, FGCU faced Louisiana Tech and came out with a 5-2 win. They won two out their three doubles matches. After senior Bettina Botha and sophomore Johanna Sterkel defeated their La Tech competitors, junior Sarah Means and sophomore Elizabeth Means secured the doubles point with a 6-3 win. In singles play, the team won four out of their six matches. Sarah Means, Elizabeth Means, and junior Candela Munoz defeated their competitors in two sets, but senior Gyanna Mandic had to head into a third-set tiebreaker to win hers.
“It was a long match and I got the first set pretty quick, but she came back and won the second set,” Mandic said. “It was mentally tough and I had to push my body physically to come up with a win.”
With a win against La Tech, the team headed into Saturday’s match ready for redemption. Last year, the team lost to the University of Central Florida 7-0 and wanted to come out victorious.
“Any time there is a win, that is a good thing,” head coach Courtney Vernon said. “The girls are gaining confidence after each match they are able to win, and they went into the UCF match excited to compete.”
On Saturday, they started the day off with doubles. Both doubles teams lost their matches and trailed by one point going into singles. Team captain Botha gave the team a motivating speech to boost their moral. “I told them to focus on their own games, and that doubles was done with and there wasn’t anything we could do about it,” Botha said. “The only thing we could do was to focus on our strengths and to not care about anything else.”
As a result, Sarah Means defeated UCF’s Josephine Haraldson 6-3, 6-4 in the No. 1 spot. Elizabeth Means and Sterkel also won their matches, leaving the fate of the team match to freshman Breana Stampfli.
Stampfli faced UCF’s Courtney Griffith. She won the first set 7-6, but lost the second set 6-4. She went into a third-set tiebreaker but lost 10- 8.
“All of us were cheering for her as loud as we could to keep her motivated,” Mandic said. “As a freshman, she showed us how competitive she is and how great of a recruit she is.”
Despite the 4-3 loss, the team improved against UCF from the previous year and look forward to more competition.
“There are a lot of good things to take away,” Vernon said. “Last year they lost to UCF 7-0 and we were two points away from beating them. I’m excited for them because in the coming weeks they have a great opportunity to play tough opponents and get better.”

EN Photo/Tessa Mortensen
Sarah Means serves during the women’s tennis singles match against UCF last Saturday. Means is
now 7-0 in singles matches for the season.

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