By: Sam Knehans, Communications & Sports Information Intern
MOBILE, Ala. — (Results | Bracket) Fourteen-time national championship qualifier Embry-Riddle (Fla.) will meet first-time attendee Georgia Gwinnett in the 2014 NAIA Women’s Tennis National Championship final at 9:00 a.m. CDT Saturday, after both squads earned 5-2 victories in Friday morning’s semifinals.
The No. 5-seeded Eagles nearly swept doubles competition, but the No. 2 doubles team for top-seeded Xavier (La.), Nour Abbes and Simone-Alyse Ewell, battled back to win, 9-8, to keep the count at 2-1 heading into singles play.
Abbes made quick work of Embry-Riddle’s Hui-I Huang at No. 1 singles (6-3, 6-1) to pull the Gold Nuggets even at 2-2, before Paula Ortiz Couder (6-0, 6-4), Paola Montero (6-2, 6-3) and Kristina Marova (6-4, 6-3) rattled off victories at No. 6, No. 5 and No. 3 singles to clinch the match. The victory sends Embry-Riddle to its second national championship final since the team format was adopted in 2000.
Like Embry-Riddle, No. 2-seed Georgia Gwinnett earned victories at No. 1 (8-4) and No. 3 (8-6) doubles, but dropped a point at No. 2 to the Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) tandem of Alejandra Galvis and Jessica King (8-3). In singles, Valeria Podda defeated Galvis (6-3, 6-0) at the No. 1 position to give the Grizzlies a 3-1 lead. Then, Sarah Bernos earned the final win for the Blue Raiders at No. 2 singles, besting Judith van Fraaijenhoven in a three-set thriller (6-4, 1-6, 6-4) to pull Lindsey Wilson within one, 3-2. To seal the match, Paloma Cortina (6-3, 4-6, 6-4) and Chiara Di Salvo (3-6, 6-1, 6-4) earned hard-fought three-set wins at No. 3 and No. 4 for the Grizzlies.
With the win, Georgia Gwinnett advances to the national championship final in its first-ever national championship appearance. The loss is the first of the season for No. 3-seed Lindsey Wilson in NAIA competition.
Embry-Riddle is 20-13 in the national championship and 18-5 on the season, while Georgia Gwinnett is 3-0 in the national championship and 17-4 this year. The Eagles have yet to lose to an NAIA opponent this season.
Regardless of the outcome in tomorrow’s national championship final, a new national champion will be crowned, as neither of the finalists own a women’s tennis national title.
NeuLion, the official video streaming company of select NAIA National Championship events, will be broadcasting the national championship match from Mobile on Saturday, May 17. For more information on the free live video stream and to pre-register, click here.