The No. 35 University of Redlands women's tennis team hit the road for its season opener against Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) opponent, Caltech, on Saturday afternoon in Pasadena. While taking on the No. 40 Beavers, the Bulldogs eked out a close 5-4 win on a third-set comeback by junior Elizabeth Johnson (Portland, OR) at No. 2 singles.
Redlands earned a 2-1 lead through the doubles action with the No. 1 tandem of sophomore Sarah Ikioka (Wailuku, HI) and Johnson putting together an 8-2 thrashing. Although Caltech prevailed at No. 3, the Bulldogs responded at No. 2, as sophomore Jackie Lacy (Palm Desert, CA) and junior Madison Ross (San Diego, CA) topped their counterparts by a score of 8-3.
In singles, the Maroon and Gray extended its advantage to 4-1 with Ikioka's efficient 6-2, 6-2 showing at the top slot and first-year Lexi Lehman's (Scottsdale, AZ) 6-4, 6-3 victory at No. 4.
Needing just one more point, Redlands appeared to be in control, but Caltech refused to go away and earned wins at Nos. 5, 6, and 3 to even the count at four apiece.
It all came down to Johnson's match at the No. 2 slot. After dropping the opening set, 5-7, she rallied for a 6-4 result in the second. Caltech's sophomore Alexandra Bodrova jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third and seemed to be running away with it. However, Johnson battled back to win the deciding set, 6-4, and sent Redlands home with a big victory.
Redlands (1-0, 1-0 SCIAC) returns home to Verdieck Courts for a doubleheader on Saturday, February 17. The Bulldogs take on Colorado College at 10 a.m. before competing against Occidental College in a 2:30 p.m. conference match.