MIAMI SHORES, FL - Florida Southern women's tennis season came to an end Monday with a 5-4 setback at the hands of Valdosta State in the opening round of the NCAA Division II South Region I Tournament played here at the Buccaneer Tennis Center on the campus of Barry University. The 20th-ranked Moccasins conclude their season with a 15-8 record while the 11th-ranked Blazers, now 18-6, advance to the championship match against Barry at 3 p.m. on Tuesday.
With the match tied at 4-all, it came down to the number one singles slot with the Moccasins' Sasha Nionova, ranked 18th in the latest ITA Division II national rankings, facing the Blazers' Bea Morales Hernandez, ranked ninth in the ITA ranking. Hernandez took the first set, 6-4, while the second set went to Nionova, 7-6 (10-8). The two players battled back in forth in the final set, with neither contestant enjoying more than a one game lead. In the end, Hernandez prevailed, 7-6 (7-1).
Five of the six singles matches featured at least one tiebreaker while the number one and two singles had two sets go to a tiebreaker.
Valdosta State grabbed a 2-0 lead in doubles as Laura Ubeda and Estes Widdershoven defeated Lorena Rionda and Natalija Popovic, 8-3, at number three, followed by an 8-4 win by Anja Coksa and Daniela Barta over Selin Devrimci and Lola Asis at number two. Nionova and Linnea Skymberg avoided the Barry doubles sweep by recording an 8-6 triumph over Hernandez and Anke Poncelet.
Barta then gave the Blazers a 3-1 lead with her 7-6 (7-2), 6-0 win over Florida Southern's Asis at number six singles. Rionda kept Mocccasins in the match with a 7-6 (7-4), 6-1 defeats of VSU's Ubeda at number three and Popovic tied the march at 3-all with her 2-6, 6-1, 6-1 come-from-behind win over Poncelet at number five.
Sabrina Schmidt put Valdosta State up once again with a 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 6-3 win over the Moccains' Devrimci at number four singles, but Skymberg tied the match once again for Florida Southern as she downed Coksa, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-4), at number two singles, putting the match in the hands of the two team's number one singles players.
The 15 wins this season is the most since the 2014 team posted a 15-6 record and FSC was making its first appearance in the NCAA postseason since 2013.