CLAREMONT, Calif. — In a closely fought battle that went down to the wire, BYU came out victorious against the Gaels in the opening round of the West Coast Conference Championships with a 4-3 decision. Saint Mary's entered the postseason tournament as the No. 3 seed while BYU was ranked No. 6 and the match took place at the Biszantz Family Tennis Center in Claremont.
Saint Mary's got off to a solid start in the match as Kareena Manji and Jana McCord teamed up for a 6-2 doubles win to begin the day. The Cougars salvaged the second doubles match but Clementine Clement and Jacqueline Pelletier came up clutch for the Gaels by squeaking out a 7-6 (2) victory to earn the doubles point.
Singles play between the Gaels and Cougars was highly entertaining as five of the six matches went to three sets.
BYU hit the ground running with two singles victories in the No.1 and 2 spots to take a 2-1 lead in the match. Parminder Kaur decisively won her first set as the Gaels' No. 5 singles player but Taylah Beckham rallied back and took the next two sets to put the Cougars on the precipice of victory with a 3-1 lead.
The Gaels showed no signs of quitting however as freshman Danielle McIntyre took down her opponent in three sets, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4. Clement also muscled back from an early dropped set to win 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 and tie the match at 3-all.
The closest, and ultimately deciding, match took place on the fourth singles court between Manji and Samantha Smith of BYU. Manji fought hard to take the first set in a tiebreaker but Smith responded with a tiebreaker win of her own to force a third set. Smith would ultimately win the battle between the two with a 6-3 decision to propel the Cougars to the semifinal round.
Following the loss, Saint Mary's will officially end the season with a 12-8 record, including a stellar 7-3 conference record. BYU (9-13, 4-6 WCC) will face off against No. 2 Gonzaga tomorrow at 10 a.m. Also in the semifinal round in the women's tournament are No.1 Pepperdine and No. 4 San Diego.
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