From NYU Athletics
Coco Kulle and Flyora Shiyanova of the New York University women's tennis team combined to win the doubles title at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Northeast Regional Championships on Monday, September 24, at William Smith College in Geneva, NY. The duo won a tight three-set match and will be heading to the Oracle ITA National Championships for the second consecutive year.
Facing Frances Cornwall and Tara Edwards of Vassar College, the Violet pair dropped the opening set 6-3 but rallied for a 6-1 win in the second. The third set was on serve until the NYU twosome broke to take a 5-3 lead. However, the Vassar duo countered by breaking back to pull within 5-4 and then holding serve for a 5-5 deadlock.
Then, despite Kulle playing her eighth set of the day and Shiyanova her fifth, the Violet twosome regrouped and won the next two games en route to the title and automatic qualification for nationals.
"This speaks to Coco's mental resolve, starting this match just about five minutes after losing the singles finals," said Head Coach Horace Choy. "We got off to a slow start, but Coco's energy picked up her partner, then they switched roles later on. In this type of back-and-forth match, it's a testament that both players stayed mentally tough and pulled it out at the end."
At the beginning of the long day, the Violet duo faced each other in the singles semifinals with Kulle defeating Shiyanova 6-3, 6-2.
"Always tough watching your own players face each other in a championship situation like this. I would rather be able to root for someone, but today that was impossible," Choy explained. "That being said, they both played well and I'm very proud of them. It was a spirited match, but they never lost track of the fact that they are teammates and friends."
In the singles finals against Risa Fukushige of Skidmore College, Kulle dropped the first set 6-3 but came back to tie the match with her own 6-3 victory in the second. However, she could not maintain the momentum and dropped the final set 6-2.
"Her opponent took more chances and showed a lot more aggressive play early on," Choy revealed. "Coco came back, but Fukushige was able to build momentum and pull away at the end."
Despite the narrow singles loss, the season will continue for NYU's dynamic duo on Thursday, October 11, when the Oracle ITA Cup begins in Rome, GA.