Friday, May 16, 2008

Lady Pirates Knock Off BYU-Hawaii 5-1 !

The Lady Pirates have done it, winning 5-1 after Gabriella Kovacs, Martina Beckmann and Alisa Kagukina take singles wins!

No. 2 AASU Advances To Finals With 5-1 Win over No. 1 BYU-Hawaii

HOUSTON, Texas - The NCAA Division II women's tennis semifinal matchup between top-ranked and undefeated BYU-Hawaii and second-ranked Armstrong Atlantic state had the potential to be one sided. It was - in favor of the Lady Pirates.

Armstrong Atlantic State advanced to its ninth NCAA Diivsion II Women's Tennis Championship match with a 5-1 victory over the Seasiders, ending BYU-Hawaii's latest winning streak at 87 games and giving the Lady Pirates a shot at their fourth NCAA Championship.

BYU-Hawaii (28-1) started strongly in doubles, taking No. 3 behind Jenny Chin and Koko Ikeda, 8-2, over Johanna Dahlback and Alisa Kagukina. The Seasiders held leads at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles as well, but the Lady Pirates fought back as the third-ranked duo of Iuliia Stupak and Gabriella Kovacs won the last three games to close out an 8-5 win over top-ranked Elwen Li and Maggie Deng. AASU then took a 2-1 lead after doubles with Martina Beckmann and Alida Muller-Wehlau's 8-6 win over Ramona Husaru and Becky Lu.

The Lady Pirates (31-1) then won the first set in five of the first six singles sets to jump out to a commanding lead. Kovacs closed out a 6-1, 6-4 win over Becky Lu at No. 4 singles, then Kagukina won a 6-1, 6-2 decision at No. 6 singles over Koko Ikeda. Beckmann produced the deciding point at No. 5 singles with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Jenny Chin at No. 5 singles.

To the casual observer, the win may have seemed easy, but head coach Simon Earnshaw disagrees. "Absolutely not," Earnshaw said after the match in response to the question. "I think we had our backs to the wall in the first 45 minutes to an hour of doubles. I don't think we took the lead until we got to 5-5 at number one (doubles) and 6-6 at number two. We were struggling at the beginning, but obviously in the big points and at the right times, we proudced our best tennis. "

The win was a reversal of last year's semifinal meeting in which BYU-Hawaii used the momentum to fashion a 5-1 victory en route to the national title. The key was the hot start to singles right after the doubles, according to Earnshaw. "We made the perfect start from singles. We used our momentum with doubles. I was a litle suprised at how hot we came out. We were able to get through a couple of the tougher first-sets and run out the second sets."

Even though the match did not conclude, the top two singles players in the nation - second-ranked Iuliia Stupak and top-ranked Elwen Li staged a classic first-set battle, won by Stupak in a tiebreaker, 7-6 (10-8).

Ahead now for the Lady Pirates is Lynn University, 5-2 winners over Valdosta State in the other semifinal match. The National Champion will be decided at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday morning at the Memorial Park Tennis Center.

"I would say that in Division II women's tennis there are three premier programs," Earnshaw said. "BYU-Hawaii, Lynn and ourselves. We have to beat both of the other two to win a championship. It will not be an easy match, and i expect it to be just as tough - if not tougher - than today's match."

The two teams matched up in the regular season in Savannah, with AASU taking a 7-2 win back on February 23 in Savannah.


Anonymous Eric F said...

One huge one down, one huge one left to go. Get after it ladies.
Go Pirates

May 16, 2008 3:31 PM  
Anonymous C Parrish said...

Unbelievable! Way to go. Just 5 more points. Stay focused, play hard.

May 16, 2008 5:28 PM  
Anonymous Christina said...

Awesome job ladies!! That was a huge win, only one more left. Good luck and play tough.

May 16, 2008 8:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good job, Ladies! Way to beat BYU! Good luck tomorrow, play tough, stay focused and believe that you can bring the title home. "Take care of business"!


May 17, 2008 7:18 AM  

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