MT. PLEASANT, S.C. - Keely Mulligan (Miami, Fla.) was one of three seniors to lead the College of Charleston women's tennis team further toward its quest for a second consecutive Southern Conference regular-season championship title with a crucial 5-2 victory over UNC Greensboro on Sunday afternoon at the College of Charleston Tennis Center at Patriots Point.
The Cougars (16-7, 8-0) are currently on a season-best nine-match winning streak and handed the Spartans (12-5, 7-1) their first league loss of the year. They now have sole possession of first place in the latest team standings after defeating third-place Furman on Saturday.
After dropping the doubles point early, CofC countered by winning five of six first sets in singles. Junior Caroline Newman (Greensboro, N.C.) led the charge by leveling the dual match at one-all with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over UNCG's Stephanie MacFarlane at the No. 3 line. She is one of two Cougars to have won all nine of her singles matches in the team's current winning stretch.
Freshman Kelly Kambourelis (Melbourne, Fla.) gave CofC the 2-1 advantage allowing only three games over two sets against Lucy Dougherty, 6-0, 6-3, at No. 5, followed by senior Emma Hayman (Wanganui, New Zealand) with a hard-fought 6-1, 6-4 decision over Alex Whitehead at No. 2.
Mulligan clinched the match with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Mikayla Rogers for the fourth decisive point, while senior Kinsey Casey (Alpharetta, Ga.) made it 3-0 on Senior Day outlasting Dilara Yurtkuran in a third-set super tiebreaker, 6-3, 1-6, 1-0 (4), at No. 4.
"Our comeback was certainly led by our senior leadership and all three seniors picking up wins today in singles," CofC Director of Tennis Angelo Anastopoulo said. "It's the kind of match you would expect with two Southern Conference leaders. I knew it was going to be a good day when Caroline Newman got off the court first. Anytime she comes off first with a win, we are in good shape. I couldn't be more proud of them. It shows what our seniors have meant to our program. For them, to come out here and play the kind of match they did after we dropped the doubles point, was really impressive."
The Cougars have now won 18-straight SoCon matches since the conclusion of the 2010 season and will close out the regular season on the road at Wofford on Friday, April 15, at 3 p.m. (ET) in Spartanburg, S.C., and at Western Carolina on Saturday, April 16, at 10 a.m. (ET) in Cullowhee, N.C.
"Hopefully, if we can pick up one more win between a much-improved Wofford team and Western Carolina squad this week, it will ensure us the No. 1 seed," Anastopoulo said. "It would be nice to earn that in back-to-back years, but the ultimate goal is still in Chattanooga (winning to advance to the NCAA Tournament). We still have a lot of work to do to continue to get better. My hats off to Greensboro and the year they've had. Coach Trivette has done a great job with his program and his team is certainly going to be a force to deal with in the tournament as well as every other team in the Southern Conference."
COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON 5, UNCG 2
April 10, 2011
College of Charleston Tennis Center at Patriots Point
at Mt. Pleasant, S.C.
No. 1 - Niltooli Wilkins (UNCG) def. Christin Newman (CofC), 6-2, 6-1.
No. 2 - Emma Hayman (CofC) def. Alex Whitehead (UNCG), 6-1, 6-4.
No. 3 - Caroline Newman (CofC) def. Stephanie MacFarlane (UNCG), 6-1, 6-0.
No. 4 - Kinsey Casey (CofC) def. Dilara Yurtkuran (UNCG), 6-3, 1-6, 1-0 (4).
No. 5 - Kelly Kambourelis (CofC) def. Lucy Dougherty (UNCG), 6-0, 6-3.
No. 6 - Keely Mulligan (CofC) def. Mikayla Rogers (UNCG), 6-2, 6-2.
No. 1 - MacFarlane-Whitehead (UNCG) def. Hayman-Irene Viana (CofC), 8-4.
No. 2 - Dougherty-Wilkins (UNCG) def. Casey-Katie Lee (CofC), 8-5.
No. 3 - Jamie Harrell-Christin Newman (CofC) def. Rogers-Sutherland (UNCG), 8-1.
ORDER OF FINISH
Doubles: 3, 1, 2*
Singles: 3, 5, 2, 1, 6*, 4