On Cloud Nine: Women's Tennis Wraps Up Ninth Consecutive Horizon League Championship

Junior Molly Smith and the Flames garnered the program's ninth straight league title and seventh consecutive NCAA bid on Sunday night.
Junior Molly Smith and the Flames garnered the program's ninth straight league title and seventh consecutive NCAA bid on Sunday night.

April 24, 2005

Indianapolis, Ind.- Not even Mother Nature could prevent the inevitable.

While heavy rains forced the finals of the Horizon League Women's Tennis Championship to be played over eight hours late and in an indoor facility in nearby Carmel, Ind., the University of Illinois at Chicago women's tennis team remained unfazed and did just what it expected to do all along.

The top-seeded Flames shutout second seed Youngstown State, 4-0, late Sunday night in the 2005 Horizon League finals to capture their ninth consecutive conference championship and claim the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament for the seventh straight season.

After the Penguins kept close with the Flames in a regular season contest nearly a week ago in Youngstown, Ohio, UIC did not give YSU an ounce of hope this time around. The Flames took two doubles matches to clinch the doubles point and the early 1-0 lead, then proceeded to get convincing straight-set wins from the heart of the order to give the program their fourth straight title under UIC head coach Shannon Tully.

All-Horizon League Second Team selection Molly Smith downed Whitney Thomas in No. 2 singles by a 6-2, 7-5 count, getting back at Thomas in a big way after Smith lost a three-set contest last weekend.

Corey Steven, a three-time All-Horizon League honoree, continued to dominate in league play with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Heather Hagood at the No. 3 singles spot. It marked Steven's 10th win of the year in league play, a career single-season best for the junior.

All-Horizon Leaguer Melanie Humphrey turned in a 6-3, 6-1 at No.4 singles over Gina Peretti to give the Flames the win.



Under Tully, UIC is now 39-0 against Horizon League foes in dual match play.

The Flames are now 13-10 overall and 10-0 against Horizon League opponents this season.

UIC will learn of their NCAA seed, first-round opponent and site on Wednesday, May 4th, when the selection of the 64 NCAA Tournament teams and first- and second-round sites are announced on ESPNews. The exact time of the announcement is TBA, with the final brackets expected to be complete and available to the public by 5 p.m CST that day.

 No. 1 UIC 4, No. 2 Youngstown State 0
1. Iris Jaklin (UIC) vs. Karen Najbert (YSU) DNF
2. Molly Smith (UIC) def. Whitney Thomas (YSU) 6-2, 7-5
3. Corey Steven (UIC) def. Heather Hagood (YSU) 6-2, 6-1
4. Melanie Humphrey (UIC) def. Gina Peretti (YSU) 6-3, 6-1
5. Grace Gill-Morlis (UIC) vs. Nicole Muzechuk (YSU) DNF
6. Christina Oum (UIC) vs. Emily Thayer (YSU) DNF

DOUBLES 1. Jaklin/Humphrey (UIC) def. Najbert/Peretti (YSU) 9-7 2. Steven/Oum (UIC) def. Fuleky/Thomas (YSU) 8-2 3. Gill-Morlis/Smith (UIC) vs. Hagood/Thayer (YSU) DNF