SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- In just a few days, the Azusa Pacific seniors will take the field at Cougar Stadium for graduation ceremonies. Although final exams are now complete, a couple of women’s tennis seniors took care of some unfinished business, leading the NAIA’s No. 6-ranked Azusa Pacific to a 5-1 win over No. 4-ranked Vanguard in the semifinals of the NAIA Region II Women’s Tennis tournament Thursday evening at Point Loma Nazarene.
Jennifer Dao and Peggy Bell each split in singles and doubles in a 7-2 loss to the Lions on March 31, and the Cougars’ 6-3 defeat knocked Azusa Pacific out of contention for a GSAC title. However, Dao and Bell each led a Cougar doubles sweep and won the match-clinching singles points to lead Azusa Pacific to its third straight postseason victory over Vanguard. A year ago, Vanguard snagged a 5-4 victory over Azusa Pacific in the regular season, only to see the Cougars bounce back with a 5-1 win in the Region II Tournament and a 5-0 victory at last year’s NAIA Tournament.
“This team seems to play better towards the end of the year,” said Cougar head coach Mark Bohren. “This was a great win for our team, but it was even better for our seniors to be able to win their individual matches and lead us to the win today.”
At No. 1 doubles, Bell and Bay Daniels posted a 9-7 win, and Dao teamed up with Kim Tran for an 8-5 win. Katy Jelsma and Lindsey Cloninger trailed by a 7-3 margin at No. 3 doubles, but the tandem stormed back for a dramatic 9-7 win to complete the doubles sweep.
Dao earned a 6-3, 6-0 win over Amy Brown at No. 1 singles, and Bell wrapped up the match with a 6-4, 6-0 win at No. 4 singles over Zuzana Zustakova.
With the win, Azusa Pacific improves to 16-3 on the season and advances to Friday’s NAIA Region II Championship held at noon at Point Loma Nazarene, where the Cougars will have the opportunity to avenge its other conference defeat when it takes on No. 2-ranked Fresno Pacific. The Sunbirds handed Azusa Pacific a 7-2 defeat in the second GSAC match of the season. The winner of tomorrow’s regional final will receive the region’s automatic bid to the 56th Annual NAIA Men’s Tennis National Championship tournament, held May 14-18 in Mobile, Ala.
#1 – Jennifer Dao (APU) def. Amy Brown (VU), 6-3, 6-0
#2 – Bay Daniels (APU) vs. Betyel Tesfa (VU), DNF
#3 – Hana Jurcovicova (VU) def. Kim Tran (APU), 6-0, 6-1
#4 – Peggy Bell (APU) def. Zuzana Zustakova (VU), 6-4, 6-0
#5 – Jessalyn Lau (APU) vs. Damia Donkervoort (VU), DNF
#6 – Katy Jelsma (APU) vs. Olivia Amstad (VU), DNF
#1 – Peggy Bell/Bay Daniels (APU) def. Hana Jurcovicova/Damia Donkervoort (VU), 9-7
#2 – Jennifer Dao/Kim Tran (APU) def. Amy Brown/Zuzana Zustakova (VU), 8-5
#3 – Katy Jelsma/Lindsey Cloninger (APU) def. Betyel Tesfa/Olivia Amstad (VU), 9-7