Spartans host Cougars in battle for first place in SoCon
UNCG (13-4, 7-0 SoCon) vs. No. 61 College of Charleston (18-4, 7-0), April 7, 12 p.m., UNCG Tennis Courts
- First-place UNCG hosts fellow Southern Conference unbeaten College of Charleston on Saturday at the UNCG Tennis Courts in a match that could very well determine the regular-season league champion. The Spartans and the 61st-ranked Cougars are tied atop the league standings with the season winding down.
- Saturday's contest will mark UNCG's second straight first-place showdown in league play. On Sunday, UNCG and Furman met with identical 6-0 SoCon marks atop the conference standings. The Spartans pulled out the 5-2 win to take over sole possession of first in the league. CofC moved into a tie with UNCG with Friday's 4-3 win at Elon.
- The Spartans have won eight straight matches, with seven of those coming in league play. UNCG topped Wofford and Furman last weekend then stepped out of conference for a 5-2 win at Charlotte on Wednesday.
- In the win over the 49ers, UNCG played without the services of No. 1 player Niltooli Wilkins and still rolled to the victory, sweeping doubles and taking wins at Nos. 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 singles. Alex Whitehead, playing her first match at the top of the lineup since the 2010 campaign, won in straight sets, while Kayla Gammie, playing just her second dual match of the season, clinched the win at No. 6.
- Annette Rios is the reigning SoCon Player of the Week after going 6-0 in wins over Appalachian State, Wofford and Furman. The junior from Santa Ana, El Salvador, was 3-0 in both singles and doubles.
- Wilkins was named the SoCon Player of the Month on Tuesday. She was 9-0 in singles play in March and teamed with Lucy Dougherty to go 7-2 in doubles. The league's player of the week on March 27, Wilkins was named the league's player of the month for the second straight month and fourth time in her career.
- Wilkins paces UNCG with a 25-6 singles record and is 15-1 in dual play, all at No. 1. She has won 15 straight since opening the dual campaign with a 7-5, 7-5 loss to No. 44 Zoe De Bruycker of North Carolina on Jan. 18. With 25 wins to her credit and at least five matches left on UNCG's schedule, Wilkins has a chance to surpass the school record of 29 set by Alejandra Guerra in 2009.
- Freshman Stephanie Falcon is second on the squad with a 23-7 record (12-5 dual), while Rios is 15-12 overall and 11-6 in duals and Devon Sutherland is 13-9 overall and 6-3 in dual play. Whitehead has won five straight to move over .500 at 14-12 overall (9-6 dual), while Dougherty is 12-13 overall (8-6 dual) to give the Spartans six players in double digits in singles wins.
- In doubles play, Wilkins and Dougherty, who have been ranked as high as 40th nationally this season, are 20-9 with an 11-4 dual mark. Whitehead and Sutherland are 11-1 together (10-1 at No. 2) with nine straight wins, while Gammie and Rios are 15-3 with a 13-1 dual mark, mostly at No. 3, and have won 11 straight.
- UNCG has won the doubles point in 15 straight matches with eight sweeps in that span.
- UNCG is 6-1 at home this year with a 3-0 mark at the UNCG Tennis Courts and a 3-1 mark at the Piedmont Indoor Tennis Center. The Spartans are 7-3 outside of Greensboro and 7-2 in true road matches.
- UNCG has yet to win a 4-3 match this season. The Spartans have lost twice by that count but all 13 of their wins have come by 5-2 scores or better.
- College of Charleston survived Elon's upset bid Friday afternoon to win its 14th straight match, 4-3 over the Phoenix at The Jimmy Powell Tennis Center. Samantha Maddox clinched the match at No. 4 singles, battling back from a first-set loss for a 2-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-3 win to lock up the team victory. The Cougars, who won the doubles point with victories at Nos. 2 and 3, got a win at the top of the singles lineup from Christin Newman, while Kelly Kambourelis won at No. 2.
- Just three of the wins in the Cougars' 14-match winning streak have come on the road. The first two took place in Birmingham, Ala., and Chattanooga, Tenn., before CofC embarked on an 11-match homestand that included a 4-3 win over No. 44 Oklahoma.
- Maddox is a team-best 14-5 in singles play with a 12-5 mark at No. 4. Five other Cougars are in double digits in wins, with Newman (13-5) and Jenny Falcone (13-4) second on the squad with 13 wins each. Katie Lee is an impressive 12-2 and has seen action everywhere from Nos. 3-6.
- Falcone and Kambourelis are 12-6 together as the Cougars' No. 2 doubles tandem. Caroline Newman and Christin Newman are 10-3 together, mostly at No. 3. Maddox and Irene Viana are 8-7 at No. 1.
- The Cougars handed UNCG its lone regular-season SoCon loss last year, taking a 5-2 win over UNCG on April 10 at Patriots Point in Mt. Pleasant, S.C. UNCG claimed the doubles point on the strength of wins at Nos. 1 and 2 but Wilkins' win at No. 1 was all the Spartans could manage in singles play as CofC rallied for the win en route to its second straight perfect SoCon season.
- CofC has won 29 consecutive regular-season SoCon matches since the 2009 season and 36 straight against league opponents including the postseason.
- The Cougars have won 19 straight against the Spartans dating back to the 1999 season. UNCG's last win over College of Charleston came on Feb. 28, 1999, when the Spartan won by a 5-4 score.
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