MOBILE, Ala.-- After taking a 2-1 advantage in doubles, the NAIA’s 5th ranked Azusa Pacific won just one singles match, losing to 4th ranked Oklahoma Christian 5-3 in the quarterfinals of the NAIA Championship Tournament on Thursday. The Eagles (18-3), who the Cougars (18-4) knocked out in last year’s quarterfinal, won four singles matches, all in convincing fashion to make their first ever NAIA semifinal appearance.
Emily Harris was the long singles winner, posting a 6-0, 6-1 rout at No. 3 to register her 13th straight win, finishing off her impressive sophomore campaign with an 18-1 record. 26th ranked Leah Hoffee didn’t finish her match, but was well on her way to a comeback against 11th ranked Lucie Spikova at No. 2 when Oklahoma Christian sealed the win. Hoffee, who continued her odd streak of unfinished matches alive, was tied 1-1 (6-2, 4-6) after two sets, and ends her career at Azusa Pacific without finishing a match in four years of postseason play.
Outside of Hoffee and Harris the Eagles dominated singles play, winning seven of eight sets by three or more games, and closing the contest with three consecutive victories. At No. 1 3rd ranked Herman Brhane beat Azusa Pacific’s top-player, 23rd ranked Natalie McNall 6-3, 6-1 to tie the match at 2-2. Then after Harris put the Cougars ahead Maryfer Abreu-Roman beat freshman Danae Ingwaldson 6-3, 6-2 at No. 4 to knot it at 3-3.
On court five Marta Contel Miranzo posted a 6-2, 6-3 result over Molly Ruby to give Oklahoma Christian its first lead of the day. The Eagles then sealed the victory when Gabriela Carrilo got past Kim Koetterheinrich with a 7-6, 6-1 showing, ending Azusa Pacific’s run in the NAIA tournament with a 15-13 record since 2000.
In doubles McNall and Ruby upset the 12th ranked team in the NAIA, defeating Carrilo and Contel Miranzo 8-5 at No. 2. Ingwaldson and Harris nearly pulled off a major upset over the 3rd ranked Eagles team, coming back from a 3-0 deficit before ultimately falling 8-5. At No. 3 doubles Hoffee and Koetterheinrich cruised to an 8-4 victory, moving Koetterheinrich’s doubles record to 17-0 this year.
With the loss Azusa Pacific ends its run on the NAIA as one of the most consistent programs in the country, making the postseason tournament in 13 straight years and advancing into the quarterfinals in three consecutive.