MOBILE, Ala. -- Two games. That’s all that separated sixth-seeded Azusa Pacific from a 2-1 lead after doubles and a potential upset of third-seeded Freed-Hardeman and a fourth straight semifinals appearance at the 27th Annual NAIA Women’s Tennis National Championship. Instead, the Cougars had leads taken away in the top 2 doubles spots and faced a nearly-insurmountable 3-0 deficit heading into singles play in Wednesday’s rain-delayed quarterfinal matchup at the Mobile Tennis Center.
The heavy afternoon shower, which moved a pair of unfinished men’s quarterfinals matches indoors, pushed the women’s start times back 5 hours to 6 p.m.
Freed-Hardeman picked up an 8-1 win at No. 3 doubles, but the Cougars had the higher-seeded Lady Lions right where they wanted in the top 2 doubles spots, just 1 game away from victory in each. Peggy Bell and Bay Daniels took a 7-4 lead at No. 1 singles, but Alexandra Mayrat and Ayda Ardila won 5 straight games for the come-from-behind win that gave Freed-Hardeman a 2-0 lead.
At No. 2 doubles, Jennifer Dao and Kim Tran led 5-3 before Freed-Hardeman won 3 straight games for a 6-5 lead. After each team held serve for a game, the Cougars broke serve to take an 8-7 lead. However, the Lady Lions tied the match at 8-8, then won the tiebreaker by a 7-4 margin to take a 3-0 lead into singles play.
Despite the looming deficit, Azusa Pacific made things interesting to begin singles play, as 4 Cougars either led or tied through the first 8 games of their singles matches. Jelena Jovic scored a 6-2, 6-2 win over Tran at No. 3 singles to give Freed-Hardeman a 4-0 lead, and Ayda Ardila sealed the win with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Daniels at No. 2 singles.
At No. 1 singles, Dao raced out to a 4-1 lead and picked up a 6-3 win in the opening set, and she was tied at 3-3 in the second when the match ended. Bell was a 6-3 winner in her first set at No. 4 singles, and Katy Jelsma dropped a narrow 7-6 first set on an 8-6 tiebreaker. Jessalyn Lau dropped her opening set but trailed by just 1 game at 2-1 in the second set when the match was stopped.
With the loss, Azusa Pacific’s campaign comes to a close with a 17-5 record, while Freed-Hardeman improves to 27-3 and advances to its first-ever NAIA Tournament semifinals.
Updated results and tournament recaps can be found at the following page on the NAIA's official website, www.naia.org: http://naia.cstv.com/sports/w-tennis/spec-rel/091905aac.html
#1 - Alexandra Mayrat (FHU) vs. Jennifer Dao (APU), 3-6, 3-3 DNF
#2 - Ayda Ardila (FHU) def. Bay Daniels (APU), 6-4, 6-2
#3 - Jelena Jovic (FHU) def. Kim Tran (APU), 6-2, 6-2
#4 - Kristina Vucenov (FHU) vs. Peggy Bell (APU), 3-6, 4-1 DNF
#5 - Natalie Yanes (FHU) vs. Katy Jelsma (APU), 7-6, 0-0 DNF
#6 - Juliana Costa (FHU) vs. Jessalyn Lau (APU), 6-1, 2-1 DNF
#1 - A. Mayrat/A. Ardila (FHU) def. P. Bell/B. Daniels (APU), 9-7
#2 - C. Bello/J. Costa (FHU) def. J. Dao/K. Tran (APU), 9-8
#3 - J. Jovic/N. Yanes (FHU) def. K. Jelsma/L. Cloninger (APU), 8-1