MOBILE, Ala. -- Fifth-seeded Azusa Pacific laid what appeared to be the groundwork for a national quarterfinal upset over fourth-seeded Vanguard, taking 2 of 3 doubles points Wednesday at the 28th Annual NAIA Women’s Tennis National Championship.
Vanguard thought otherwise, winning every contested singles set until the conclusion of the match after 4 straight-sets singles wins in the third meeting of the season between the Golden State Athletic Conference rivals. Azusa Pacific posted a 5-4 win in the teams’ regular-season meeting, but the Lions got revenge with a 5-1 win in the NAIA Region II semifinals.
The Cougars got off to a great start, overcoming an 8-1 defeat at No. 2 doubles with an 8-3 win from No. 3 doubles tandem Lindsey Cloninger and Kim Tran. Azusa Pacific’s No. 1 doubles team of Sheryl Bon and Bay Daniels, which defeated Vanguard’s top doubles team in both of this year’s previous meetings, completed the season sweep with a 9-7 win that gave the Cougars the 2-1 advantage heading into singles play.
However, Vanguard took all 6 opening sets to start singles. Betty Tesfa and Jelena Jovic, Vanguard’s lone doubles-winning tandem, each registered straight-sets wins at No. 2 and 3, respectively, to give the Lions a 3-2 lead. Hana Jurcovicova registered a 6-4, 6-1 win over Daniels at No. 1 singles to put Vanguard in position for the victory with just 1 more singles win in the remaining 3 matches.
Katy Jelsma dropped an opening-set tiebreaker to Damia Donkervoort at No. 4, and Donkervoort pulled away for a 6-1 second-set win that clinched Vanguard’s trip to Thursday’s semifinals.
Azusa Pacific finishes its season 17-6 overall, and the Cougars join Vanguard and 4-time defending NAIA champion Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) as the only 3 NAIA programs to reach the quarterfinals in each of the past 5 seasons.
Vanguard 5, Azusa Pacific 2
1. Hana Jurcovicova (VU) def. Bay Daniels (APU), 6-4, 6-1
2. Betyel Tesfa (VU) def. Casey Wetzig (APU), 6-0, 6-2
3. Jelena Jovic (VU) def. Sheryl Bon (APU), 6-2, 6-1
4. Damia Donkervoort (VU) def. Katy Jelsma (APU), 7-6 (2), 6-1
5. Kim Tran (APU) vs. Anna Valingsten (VU), DNF
6. Lindsey Cloninger (APU) vs. Olivia Amstad (VU), DNF
1. Bon/Daniels (APU) def. Donkervoort/Jurcovicova (VU), 9-7
2. Jovic/Tesfa (VU) def. Jelsma/Wetzig (APU), 8-1
3. Cloninger/Tran (APU) def. Amstad/Valingsten (VU), 8-3