MT. PLEASANT, S.C. – Top-seeded UNCG fell just short in its bid for its first Southern Conference Women's Tennis Championship title, falling 4-0 to No. 2 seed and 65th-ranked College of Charleston in the title match Monday at the CofC Tennis Center. The championship was the Cougars' fourth straight.
With a loss that was much closer than the final score indicated, the Spartans finished their season 18-6 after going 10-0 in league play and reaching the tournament final for the first time in school history. CofC improved to 25-5 and picked up the SoCon's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
The match got off to an ominous start for UNCG, which dropped the doubles point for the first time since Jan. 22, snapping a streak of 21 straight matches winning the point.
CofC's Samantha Maddox and Irene Viana rolled to an 8-1 win over Lucy Dougherty and Niltooli Wilkins at No. 1, and Katie Lee and Christin Newman clinched the point with an 8-4 win over Kayla Gammie and Annette Rios at No. 3.
The Cougars' Jenny Falcone and Kelly Kambourelis were leading Devon Sutherland and Alex Whitehead 6-3 at No. 2 when that match was abandoned.
In singles play, Falcone made it a 2-0 CofC advantage with a 6-3, 7-6 (7-2) win over Dougherty at No. 5.
Whitehead battled to a 7-6 (7-5) win in her first set at No. 2, but Kambourelis rallied to win the next two sets 6-2 and 6-1 to put UNCG on the brink of elimination.
Lee clinched the match for the Cougars at No. 6, downing Stephanie Falcon 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
Wilkins, the SoCon Player of the Year, narrowly avoided seeing her 20-match winning streak come to a halt, as she trailed Newman at No. 1, 2-6, 6-6, when the match was clinched. Wilkins finished the season with a 30-6 singles record, including a 20-1 dual mark.
Also unfinished were matches at Nos. 3 and 4. At No. 3, UNCG's Dilara Yurtkuran rallied from a 5-2 deficit to Caroline Newman in the second set to force a third, but Newman was leading 6-2, 6-7 (4-7), 2-0 when the match was abandoned. Rios won her first set over Maddox at No. 4, 6-4, but Maddox bounced back to win the second 6-2. Rios was leading the third set 6-5 when the team outcome was decided and the match halted.
All told, four of the six singles matches went to third sets and the match at No. 1 could have had it not been abandoned.
The contest featured seven All-SoCon singles players and four all-conference doubles tandems.
Just over two weeks ago, UNCG topped CofC 5-2 in Greensboro, snapping the Cougars' 36-match winning streak against league opponents. The win was also the Spartans' first over CofC since 1999, snapping a 19-match losing streak in the series.
#65 College of Charleston 4, UNCG 0
1. Niltooli Wilkins (UNCG) vs. Christin Newman (COFC) 2-6, 6-6, unfinished
2. Kelly Kambourelis (COFC) def. Alex Whitehead (UNCG) 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 6-1
3. Dilara Yurtkuran (UNCG) vs. Caroline Newman (COFC) 2-6, 7-6 (7-4), 0-2, unfinished
4. Annette Rios (UNCG) vs. Samantha Maddox (COFC) 6-4, 3-6, 6-5, unfinished
5. Jenny Falcone (COFC) def. Lucy Dougherty (UNCG) 6-3, 7-6 (7-2)
6. Katie Lee (COFC) def. Stephanie Falcon (UNCG) 6-3, 4-6, 6-4
1. Samantha Maddox/Irene Viana (COFC) def. Lucy Dougherty/Niltooli Wilkins (UNCG) 8-1
2. Devon Sutherland/Alex Whitehead (UNCG) vs. Jenny Falcone/Kelly Kambourelis (COFC) 3-6, unfinished
3. Katie Lee/Christin Newman (COFC) def. Kayla Gammie/Annette Rios (UNCG) 8-4
College of Charleston 25-5; National ranking #65
Order of finish: Doubles (1,3); Singles (5,2,6)
- UNCG -