CHARLESTON, S.C. - In what has become an annual rivalry match usually reserved for the final day of tournament play, the No. 65-ranked and second-seeded College of Charleston women's tennis team put away third-seeded Furman, 5-0, in both program's first-ever semifinal meeting at the 2012 Southern Conference Tennis Championships held Saturday at the Charleston Tennis Center in West Ashley.
The Cougars (24-5) and Paladins (14-10) had previously met in the tournament finals in each of the last three years in which CofC prevailed and earned the league's automatic NCAA Tournament bid.
This time, it will be a face-off with top-seeded UNCG (18-5) tomorrow at 2 p.m. (ET) at the CofC Tennis Center at Patriots Point. The Spartans went undefeated and were the Cougars' lone conference loss during the regular season.
Saturday's match was moved to a different facility due to inclement weather and the format switched around with all six singles matches played first, and doubles if needed.
Freshman Jenny Falcone (Davidson, N.C.) turned in her first career 20-win dual campaign (20-4) and seventh-straight victory with a 6-1, 6-2 decision over Furman's Alex Moreno-Kaste at No. 5 singles. Senior Katie Lee (Brisbane, Australia) quickly followed suit as she won in straight sets over Amanda Murray at the No. 6 position, to put the Cougars up 2-0.
Sophomore Kelly Kambourelis (Melbourne, Fla.) battled back from a first-set deficit to win a hard-fought three-setter over Michele Stanford, 1-6, 6-1, 6-4, at No. 2, leaving one of the three on-going matches to decide the final outcome.
"It was a great match by Furman," CofC Director of Tennis Angelo Anastopoulo said. "They gave us everything we could handle. All of the players from both the College of Charleston and Furman deserve a lot of credit for their flexibility and the Southern Conference for giving both teams the opportunity to compete in this match. Thank you also to the Charleston Tennis Center for allowing us to get this match in before the bad weather. Overall, it was just a great performance by us. We won two matches today that we lost the last time we played Furman."
With the Cougars now holding a 3-0 advantage in the match, CofC picked up two points almost instantaneously to earn the victory. Freshman Samantha Maddox (Lexington, Ky.) clinched the fourth deciding point with a three-set victory over Margaret Boyette, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, at the No. 4 line, while junior Christin Newman (Greensboro, N.C.) beat Lauren Kline, 7-5, 7-5, at No. 1 just seconds later.
"Our freshman did a great job today," Anastopoulo said. "Jenny (Falcone) just jumped out on her opponent quickly, Sam (Maddox) winning that third set to clinch and Christin (Newman) doing what she normally does for us. It was a great team performance. To beat a traditional Southern Conference power like Furman, 5-0, in the semifinals is a great accomplishment for our team."
It will be an all-Cougars finals as the top-seeded CofC men's tennis team takes on second-seeded Samford in a rematch of last year's SoCon Tournament Finals at 10 a.m. (ET) followed by the women.
#2 COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON 5, #3 FURMAN 0
2012 Southern Conference Championships - Semifinals
April 21, 2012
Charleston Tennis Center
at Charleston, S.C.
No. 1 - Christin Newman (CofC) def. Lauren Kline (Furman), 7-5, 7-5.
No. 2 - Kelly Kambourelis (CofC) def. Michele Stanford (Furman), 1-6, 6-1, 6-4.
No. 3 - Caroline Newman (CofC) vs. Katherine Oudin (Furman), 6-7 (7), 3-3, DNF.
No. 4 - Samantha Maddox (CofC) def. Margaret Boyette (Furman), 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.
No. 5 - Jenny Falcone (CofC) def. Alex Moreno-Kaste (Furman), 6-1, 6-2.
No. 6 - Katie Lee (CofC) def. Amanda Murray (Furman), 6-2, 6-1.
ORDER OF FINISH
Singles: 5, 6, 2, 4*, 1