NORTH CHARLESTON — The Winthrop women’s tennis team captured its 17th Big South Conference Tennis Championship, overpowering No. 1 seed Charleston Southern, 4-1, on Saturday afternoon at the Buccaneer Tennis Complex. With the victory, the Eagles earn the Big South’s automatic bid to the NCAA championship, and their seventh consecutive League title.
After falling behind in doubles play, Winthrop rallied to win the doubles point. Charleston Southern’s Marketa Placha and Nicolin Lucke defeated Tijana Uzelac and Beth Williamson, 8-2 on court three. But Winthrop’s Andressa and Alice Garcia topped Yvonne Hubler and Alexandra Walters, 8-5, at No. 1 before Caitlin Cridland and Ekin Gunaysu downed Alia Nour and Mi’Kola Cooper, 8-4, to clinch the doubles point.
The Buccaneers tied the score 1-1, as Placha, the Big South Player of the Year, defeated Andressa Garcia, 6-4, 6-2 at the top singles flight.
The Eagles answered, winning the next three points, and the championship. Cridland defeated Walters, 6-4, 6-0 at No. 3. Gunaysu then downed Cooper, 6-0, 6-4 and Williamson ended the match on court six, after replacing an injured Monica Aguado, beating Gabby Srodowski, 6-3, 7-5.
“First, I want to congratulate Charleston Southern for a great season and a great tournament,” Winthrop coach Cid Carvalho said. “It was a great championship match, (Charleston Southern) played really well. Second, I want to really congratulate my players. I am really proud of them and the way they played and the way they came out and competed.
“We knew it was going to be a tough match, especially after what happened last week with the rain and having to reschedule and start (the match) over again. I am extremely proud of them and their resiliency and toughness and all I want to say is congratulations, they deserve it.”
This marks the first time since the 2010 season that both the men and women’s tennis teams have advanced to play in the NCAA tournament. There will be an NCAA selection show viewing to celebrate this occasion, held on Tuesday at 5 p.m. at the university’s academic resource center, on the lower level of the Winthrop Coliseum. All Eagles fans are invited to attend.