CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - For the third consecutive season, the top-seeded and regular-season champion College of Charleston women's tennis team will play for the Southern Conference's automatic NCAA Tournament bid after defeating fourth-seeded Samford, 4-0, in the semifinals of the 2011 SoCon Women's Tennis Championship held Friday at the Champions Club.
The Cougars (20-7) extended their winning streak to 13 consecutive matches and have now advanced to the finals nine times since joining the league in 1999. They will face third-seeded Furman (12-10) in the championship match tomorrow beginning at 10 a.m. (ET). The Paladins reached the finals with 4-1 rout of second-seeded UNC Greensboro.
Unlike its quarterfinal match with eighth-seeded Appalachian State on Thursday, CofC had a close battle with Samford early as sophomore Christin Newman (Greensboro, N.C.) and freshman Jamie Harrell (Charleston, S.C.) set up the doubles point with an 8-4 victory over Jessica Diamond and M. Janse van Rensburg at the No. 3 line. Senior Emma Hayman (Wanganui, New Zealand) and sophomore Irene Viana (Paris, France) would close it out with an 8-6 rally over Taylor Morgan and Lindsey Mallory at No. 1 for the 1-0 advantage.
Hayman quickly put the Cougars by two with a 6-3, 6-1 decision over Samford's Andrie Meiring at No. 2 singles followed by a second-set comeback by freshman Kelly Kambourelis (Melbourne, Fla.) versus Rebecca Kirven, 6-4, 6-4, at No. 5. Kambourelis broke serve twice and won four-straight games to win out her second set after being down 4-2.
Christin Newman clinched the match with a hard-fought 6-3, 6-4 redemption victory over Samford's top player, Taylor Morgan, who she lost to during the regular season.
"It was a close 4-0 victory today," said CofC Director of Tennis Angelo Anastopoulo, as four of the six second sets in singles could have gone either team's way. "For awhile, we were in good shape and had things going, but in true Samford fashion, they made a good run on us. Emma got on the scoreboard quickly, Kelly made a great second-set comeback and Christin executed her game plan perfectly to clinch it for us. We have such great team depth and we got out of trouble just in the knick of time. Samford is a good team and it was nice to close out the match when we did."
The victory also marked the Cougars' fifth-straight 20-win campaign and ninth overall under three-time SoCon Coach of the Year Anastopoulo. They are the defending SoCon Tournament champion having won on three occasions in 2003, 2009 and 2010. This will be the third-straight CofC vs. Furman final.
COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON 4, SAMFORD 0
2011 SoCon Women's Tennis Championship Semifinals
April 22, 2011
The Champions Club
at Chattanooga, Tenn.
No. 1 - Christin Newman (CofC) def. Taylor Morgan (Samford), 6-3, 6-4.
No. 2 - Emma Hayman (CofC) def. Andrie Meiring (Samford), 6-3, 6-1.
No. 3 - Caroline Newman (CofC) vs. M.Janse van Rensburg (Samford), 4-6, 3-2 (unfinished).
No. 4 - Katie Lee (CofC) vs. Kristin Lewis (Samford), 4-6, 3-4 (unfinished).
No. 5 - Kelly Kambourelis (CofC) def. Rebecca Kirven (Samford), 6-4, 6-4.
No. 6 - Keely Mulligan (CofC) vs. Lindsey Mallory (Samford), 6-3, 3-4 (unfinished).
No. 1 - Hayman-Irene Viana (CofC) def. Mallory-Morgan (Samford), 8-6.
No. 2 - Meiring-Kirven (Samford) def. Kinsey Casey-Lee (CofC), 8-6.
No. 3 - Christin Newman-Jamie Harrell (CofC) def. Jessica Diamond-van Rensburg (Samford), 8-4.
ORDER OF FINISH
Doubles: 3, 2, 1*
Singles: 2, 5, 1*