May 15, 2012
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MOBILE, Ala. – Seven of the eight first-round matches had concluded Tuesday as a classic battle between 15th-seeded Indiana Wesleyan and No. 18 Robert Morris (Ill.) continued well into the afternoon sun. The Wildcats took more than four hours before claiming victory to advance to the round of 16 in the 2012 NAIA Women’s Tennis National Championships at Mobile Tennis Center in Mobile, Ala.
Indiana Wesleyan won at Nos. 1 and 2 doubles by identical 8-4 scores before the pair of Ana Kostic and Maria Bellorin of Robert Morris cruised to an 8-0 win at No. 3 doubles. Led by a 6-1, 6-1 triumph by the Wildcats’ Rachael Heiniger at No. 1 singles, Indiana Wesleyan earned a split of the six singles matches to avoid a mild upset.
The Wildcats were the only higher seed to truly be threatened as five of Tuesday’s matches were decided by 9-0 scores. Eleventh-seeded Lindsey Wilson barely broke a sweat in dispatching of host Spring Hill (Ala.). Behind No. 1 singles player Trina Slapeka, who won 6-1, 6-2 over Shelby Fritscher, the Blue Raiders dropped only 14 singles games without surrendering a set, pushing themselves to the second round and a date with No. 6 Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.) on Wednesday.
“It was a good win for our girls,” Lindsey Wilson head coach Daniel Finn said. “We came out a little flat to start with. The nerves of the national tournament obviously were there, but we knocked those off real quick. The girls really responded well and finished real strong.”
Similarly, ninth-seeded William Carey (Miss.) overmatched its opponent, an out-gunned Indiana Southeast squad, 9-0. The Crusaders’ won three singles matches by 6-0, 6-0 scores and two by 6-1, 6-0 decisions in the most lopsided of opening round matches. For William Carey, which advances to play No. 8 Concordia (Calif.), the win marked just the school’s second in championships play since the tournament switched to a team format in 2000.
“We were very pleased with our performance for the first match of the tournament,” William Carey head coach Christoph Schaefer said. “Our girls played well and they played smart. We’re looking forward to playing Concordia tomorrow.
“We knew we were the favorite team and I expected our girls to win today. They peformed well and I’m happy for them.”
No. 12 Shorter (Ga.), No. 13 SCAD Savannah (Ga.) and 14th-seeded Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) also notched 9-0 victories in the first round. Candice Laurent of Shorter, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s No. 12-rated singles player won 6-1, 6-2 over Bethel’s (Kan.) Katie Malotte at No. 1 singles to fuel the Hawks, while Lewis-Clark State No. 1 Dominika Jasova, the No. 10 singles player in the NAIA according to the ITA, shut out Andrea Arango of Northwestern Ohio, 6-0, 6-0. SCAD Savannah got standout performances again at Nos. 1 and 2 singles and No. 1 doubles by the pair of Theresa Schmaus and Magdalena Bresson.
At 10-11 in 12 championships appearances since 2000, the Warriors nudged closer to .500 in tournament play and move on to play No. 3 Embry-Riddle (Fla.) on Wednesday. Shorter will draw fifth-ranked Azusa Pacific in the second round. SCAD Savannah gets fourth-seeded Oklahoma Christian in the round of 16.
In the other two matches of the day, Southern Nazarene (Okla.) topped Missouri Valley, 7-2, and Vanguard pulled out four singles matches and two doubles matches in route to a 6-3 win.
The women’s championships resume Wednesday at 9 a.m. CDT. All eight teams who received byes in the first round will be in action with the field trimmed to 16 squads.