U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo. - Sophomore TJ Fumagalli and junior Elizabeth Barnickel earned a pair of singles titles along with a doubles title at the Air Force Invitational, Saturday afternoon, at the Air Force Academy.
“It was a fun way to start off the season to host a tournament at home with some of the toughest teams from across the country,” said head coach Kim Gidley. “The teams in this tournament were tough and played hard.”
The Fumagalli-Barnickel duo, ranked 52nd in the nation, earned their first title of the day in the top doubles flight, defeating Denver’s Bianca Mok and Hada Chang in the finals, 9-8. The pair was vigorously tested in the semi-finals and finals, battling from behind and mounting tie-breaker wins in both matches en route to the title.
“I was proud that they didn’t panic and stayed the course,” explained Gidley. “That shows a lot of maturity as leaders on their part.”
Freshman doubles team Meredith Jones and Ashleigh Harvey had a strong showing in their doubles debut, earning a second place finish in the bravo flight. The pair found themselves down early against a tough Denver team, but mounted a comeback only to fall short, 8-6.
“The thing that is fun to watch about these two is their energy. I expect big things from these two down the road,” exclaimed Gidley.
Last season, Denver made the round of 16 at the NCAA tournament and Arizona is a perennial tennis powerhouse in the PAC 12.
In the singles brackets, Fumagalli bested Camila Wesbrooks of Arizona (6-4, 2-6, 6-3) for her second title of the day while Barnickel topped Western Kentucky’s Moka Ito (1-6, 6-2, 6-2), also for her second title. Fumagalli and Barnickel went 3-0 in singles and doubles on the event.
"I was really proud of TJ for having the courage and poise to stay aggressive against an extremely talented and steady player when the time called for it," Gidley continued. “Once Elizabeth began attacking the return, she got her opponents serve to break down, allow her to dictate more and defeat a strong player from Japan.”
Another exciting singles final saw Jones go the distance in three sets before losing, 7-5, in the third set. "Meredith has fight and heart and the match could have gone either way," explained Gidley.
Harvey put on a strong display for the freshman class, going 3-0 event to win her flight.
"Ashleigh came out strong today and played an aggressive style to win her flight. She loves to compete, and that's what you want from a player."
"We want to win, but we also want to continue to grow,” said Gidley. “This is a young team that has a lot of excitement in store for them. Their team spirit and fight is what separates them from other teams. I’m really proud of their start."
The women’s tennis squad returns to action at the Harvard Invitational, Sept. 22-24, in Boston, Mass. Matches are slated to begin at 9:00 a.m. ET, each day of the event.