For the fourth-straight year, the No. 65-ranked College of Charleston women’s tennis team punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament by defeating top-seeded and undefeated regular-season champion UNCG, 4-0, in the finals of the 2012 Southern Conference Tennis Championships held on Monday afternoon at the College of Charleston Tennis Center.
The Cougars’ (25-5) four-peat ties as the second-longest tournament win streak in league history behind Furman, who won five in a row from 1998-2002 and 2004-08 and four in a row from 1991-94.
The Cougars also made program history of its own by recording its first-ever unbeaten season at home with a 17-0 record at its Patriots Point facility which opened in 2004 and turning in a school single-season record with its 25th overall victory of the year over the Spartans (18-6).
Tournament experience favored the College as UNCG made its first-ever appearance in the SoCon title match. The win avenged a previous 5-2 regular-season road setback at UNCG on April 7.
The Cougars got things rolling in doubles as freshman Samantha Maddox (Lexington, Ky.) and junior Irene Viana (Paris, France) allowed only one game in an 8-1 win over the UNCG tandem of Lucy Dougherty and Niltooli Wilkins at No. 1, while senior Katie Lee (Brisbane, Australia) and junior Christin Newman (Greensboro, N.C.) sealed the doubles point with an 8-4 victory over Kayla Gammie and Annette Rios at No. 3.
In singles, the College won four of the first six sets as freshman Jenny Falcone (Davidson, N.C.) increased the College lead to 2-0 with a 6-3, 7-6 (2) straight-set victory over Lucy Dougherty at the No. 5 position.
Like her match two days prior in the semifinals, sophomore Kelly Kambourelis (Melbourne, Fla.) battled back from a first-set deficit to win out a hard-fought three-setter over Alex Whitehead, 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-1, at No. 2 singles. She was named SoCon Most Outstanding Player going 3-0 at her line throughout the tournament against Elon in the quarterfinals, Furman in the semifinals and UNCG in the finals.
With one more match point needed to secure the program’s fourth-straight trip to the Big Dance, Katie Lee and Christin Newman would provide the backdrop for the match clincher at the No. 6 and No. 1 lines. Newman had one-match point against Southern Conference Player of the Year Niltooli Wilkins in the second-set tiebreaker, but it would be Lee who would settle the score as she defeated Stephanie Falcon, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, on serve in the final game of her match.
“First off, Greensboro played a great match,” College of Charleston Director of Tennis Angelo Anastopoulo said. “We survived a lot of championship points today against them. They deserve a lot of credit. They were the regular-season champion and we had to be at our best today to beat them. I’m really proud of our team to make it to the NCAA Tournament four times in a row. This year is even more special, because we are sharing it with our men’s team. This is definitely a special time in Cougar Tennis history to cherish.”
The Cougars will learn of its postseason matchup as the 2012 NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championship field of 64 tournament bracket and pairings are announced on Tuesday, May 1 at 5 p.m. (ET) on www.NCAA.com.