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Redshirt sophomore Natalia Nikolopoulou celebrates after a point.

As its regular season winds down, JMU women’s tennis traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina, for a pair of non-conference matches against 47th-ranked Charlotte and Florida Atlantic. The Dukes played the 49ers on Friday but couldn’t take the hosts down, losing 4-1. JMU responded with a nail-biting 4-3 win over FAU on Saturday. 

No. 47 Charlotte fends off JMU, 4-1

JMU won the first doubles match 6-4 after the duo redshirt sophomore Daria Afanasyeva and redshirt senior Alexis Franco outlasted sophomores Kaavya Sawhney and Ruxi Schech. Charlotte’s second and third doubles teams each won 7-5, giving the point to the 49ers. 

Charlotte took control of the match after winning third and sixth singles to take a 3-0 lead. JMU redshirt sophomore Natalia Nikolopoulou fell 6-0, 6-1 to senior Rocio Safont, then redshirt sophomore Daniela Voloh lost 6-2, 6-2 to freshman Emma Wilkins. 

Redshirt sophomore Kylie Moulin got the Dukes on the board after a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Sawhney made it 3-1, but Charlotte sealed the match when sophomore Margaux Maquet outlasted redshirt senior Jona Roka in three sets 5-7, 6-1, 6-1. 

JMU bounces back with win against Florida Atlantic

Looking to end the weekend with a win, JMU needed to start strong to earn the doubles point. The Dukes dropped the first doubles match, but Moulin and Roka won second doubles 6-3 and Nikolopoulou and Voloh won third doubles 6-2. Heading into singles play, JMU had a 1-0 advantage. 

The Owls turned the match around after redshirt junior Natalie Kallmunzerova took down Nikolopoulou 6-0, 6-2 to make it 1-1. Moulin reclaimed the lead for JMU after a 6-4, 6-4 win over redshirt sophomore May Kimhi, but close matches at first and second singles gave FAU a 3-2 lead. 

Owls’ redshirt sophomore Martina Kudelova outlasted Afanasyeva 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 and redshirt junior Natalia Boltinskaya beat Roka 7-6(3), 1-6, 7-6(2) to put FAU one point away from the match win. JMU responded with a comeback win from Franco which leveled the score at three apiece, putting all the pressure on the sixth singles match. 

Voloh was the No. 6 singles representative for JMU and won 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-2 against redshirt junior Louie McLelland. The match finished 4-3 in favor of the Dukes. 

“Each court was a battle for every point, and I am so proud of how we just kept competing,” head coach Shelley Jaudon said to JMU Athletics. “No matter the score. This was a total team effort and a match that will help us finish the regular season strong next weekend.”

JMU — now 9-3 (4-0 CAA) — has a week break before hosting Marshall and the College of Charleston in the season’s final two matches. Then, it’ll prepare for the CAA Tournament, where the Dukes will try to defend its conference crown. 

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