Lady Bucs earn first bid to NCAA Championship since 2006
johnson city, Tenn. (April 18, 2009) - After falling behind 2-0 and dropping a set in three of its first six singles matches the ETSU women's tennis team rallied in dramatic fashion closing out Stetson 4-2, for the 2009 Atlantic Sun Conference title and the league's automatic bid into the NCAA Championships.
After back-to-back three-set comeback wins by senior tournament MVP Tara Byrne (Johnson City) and freshman Paula Jaime (Madrid, Spain), local product Tara Sheets (Gate City, Va.) hung tough against the Hatters Jacqueline Faulk clinching the Lady Bucs second title in school history 7-6, (9-7), 2-6, 6-2.
Early in the contest the Hatters gave the Lady Bucs all they wanted taking the first two doubles matches and an 1-0 lead.
With singles play underway Stetson continued to roll taking the first-sets at No. 2 and No. 4, while closing out the No. 5 match between senior Vita Moskalovia and Shannon Gunning. After a brief Lady Bucs response by all-tournament member Yevgeniya Stupak (
After dropping the first-set to Katherine Nowicki 3-6, second-team All A-Sun member Paula Jaime stayed alive winning the second 7-5. At the same time Jaime was gaining control, Tara Byrne got back on track breezing through her second set 6-1 against Breanna Atkinson.
With the momentum slowly turning in the Lady Bucs favor, both Karina Kedzo and Tara Sheets continued to build ETSU's comeback hopes, as Kedzo gave ETSU its first point of the day closing out Unnati Pursuhotham in straight sets, 6-0, 6-4, while Sheets rallied to take a long first-set tiebreaker 7-6 (9-7.)
Even after both Stupak and Sheets dropped their second-set the tide had turned as Jaime and Byrne continued to stay strong closing out both their matches nearly seconds apart.
With the electric atmosphere building and ETSU suddenly holding a 3-2 lead all eyes turned to court six and Sheets. With the No. 6 singles match now split at one-set apiece Sheets opened the third frame with a commanding 4-2 lead. After Stetson's Jacqueline Faulk failed to hold serve with two unforced errors, the Lady Bucs second trip to the NCAA tournament came down to Sheets' chance to serve out the match at 5-2.
After taking a quick 40-15 lead, Sheets blasted a forehand down the line past the outstreched Faulk, giving the Lady Bucs their second A-Sun title in school history.
With the win ETSU avenges its only conference loss of the year a 4-3 setback in
The Lady Bucs will now wait for the NCAA's 2009 Selection Show which will take place live Tuesday, April 28th on ESPNNews. Both the single and doubles selections will be released a day later on Wednesday, April 29th through the NCAA website.
Attached above our quotes from both head coach Steve Brooks and tournament MVP Tara Byrne. Below are both the 2009 A-Sun All-Tournament team and final scores from today's match between ETSU and Stetson.
Shannon Gunning, Stetson
Valentina Galbarini, Stetson
Yevgenia Stupakm ETSU
Tara Byrne, ETSU
Most Valuable Player
Tara Byrne, ETSU
ETSU vs. Stetson
1. Valentina Galbarini (STET) vs. Yevgeniya STUPAK (ETSU) no result
2. Tara BYRNE (ETSU) def. Breanna Atkinson (STET) 3-6, 6-1, 6-2
3. Karina KEDZO (ETSU) def. Unnati Purushotham (STET) 6-0, 6-4
4. Paula JAIME (ETSU) def. Katherine Nowicki (STET) 3-6, 7-5, 6-0
5. Shannon Gunning (STET) def. Vita MOSKALIOVA (ETSU) 6-2, 6-2
1. Valentina Galbarini/Unnati Purushotham (STET) def. Yevgeniya STUPAK/Paula JAIME (ETSU) 8-3
2. Breanna Atkinson/Katherine Nowicki (STET) vs. Karina KEDZO/Tara BYRNE (ETSU) no result
ETSU wins second A-Sun title in school history (2006)
Order of finish (1,3)