Women's Tennis Captures 16th-Consecutive Horizon League Championship
April 29, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS - For the 16th-consecutive season, the UIC women's tennis team ended the regular season as Horizon League Champions. The top-seeded Flames defeated No. 2 Cleveland State in a 4-0 decision Sunday, claiming their 143rd-straight win over a Horizon League foe. UIC, which secured a berth to its 14th-straight NCAA Tournament, is now 110-0 in conference play under head coach Shannon Tully.
"The Championship was a great win today," Tully said. "I have never coached a more competent and composed team in any final. From the first win of doubles to the last win of singles, we were under control on every court. Even though it was close and we were battling, we definitely had the edge the entire time. I am really proud of all of the players for finishing such a strong season and we are all looking forward to the Selection Show and finding out who we play in the NCAA Tournament."
UIC took the early lead by claiming the doubles point from wins at No. 2 and 3. Teona Tsertsvadze and Elisa Simonettieasily won their match against Alexandra Bush and Alex Power at No. 2, coming away with an 8-2, pro-set victory.
Jana Knoppe and Linda Hricistova were able to win the second match for UIC with their 8-4 win over Kara Sherwood and Nicole Janek in the third doubles flight, while Mariya Kovaleva and Haley Craig's(No. 1 doubles) tight match with Catrine Bjerrehus and Maria Lazaris went into the books unfinished.
It was a battle for the Flames throughout singles play. Knoppe was able to record UIC's first win, as she topped Alexandra Bush, 6-4, 6-3, at No. 5. Tsertsvadze won the next match in a straight-set, 7-5, 6-4 decision at No. 2 against Lazaris. Kathryn Sharplesthen clinched the win for UIC after coming back from a first-set loss to win 2-6, 6-1 and 6-0 over Power at the sixth singles position.
Kovaleva's match with Bjerrehus at No. 1 went unfinished after the pair headed into a third set. Kovaleva, the Horizon League's first-ever four-time Player of the Year, ended her conference career record at an unblemished 37-0. Craig (No. 3) and Simonetti (No. 4) also had their matches end early after facing tough competition.
"What Mariya has accomplished during her career at UIC is immeasurable," Tully said. "To finish her career with an undefeated record in conference play is an unbelievable achievement. Her leadership and everything else she brings to the team is going to make it very difficult to replace. Lucky for us, we've got her on our team as we enter the postseason, and I know she and her teammates are excited about the opportunity to extend their season."
With the Horizon League title in hand, the Flames head to the NCAA Tournament for the 14th consecutive season. The Selection Show is set for 4 p.m. (CST) on Tuesday, May 1.
(1) UIC 4, (2) Cleveland State 0