WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - No. 2 Charleston Southern advanced to the Big South Women's Tennis championship match on Sunday afternoon following their 4-3 win over No. 3 Liberty on Saturday morning.
The Bucs (17-2) avenged their lone Big South Conference loss in the 2017 regular season at the hands of the Flames (12-12) by taking the doubles point and winning on singles courts 1, 2, and 5, to win the match.
Charleston Southern will face off with top-seed Winthrop tomorrow afternoon at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex in Winston-Salem, N.C. First serve between the Bucs and the Eagles is set for noon.
Valeria Koussenkova secured the CSU win on court no. 5. The Barcelona, Spain native dropped the first set to Liberty's Emily Groeneveld, 6-3, to fall behind early. Koussenkova evened the match with a 6-1 win in the second frame to send the match into the third set.
With both sides gathered around to watch the court in play, the duo went all the way into the tiebreaker on court no. 5 before Koussenkova took control in closing out the 7-6 (7-3) set win to secure CSU's fourth point of the match.
The Bucs got into position to give Koussenkova a chance following Sophie Cloessner's straight set win on court no. 2 over Evangeline Crist. CSU trailed 3-2 following the completion singles play on courts 1, 3, 4, and 6 and needed a win to continue competition. The CSU First Team All-Conference selection delivered with a 6-4, 6-3 win to send the attention to court no. 5.
Nicolin Luecke put the Bucs' first singles point on the board with a 7-5, 6-0 win over Rebekah Anderson on court no. 1 to give CSU the early 2-0 lead.
The Bucs took the opening point of the match thanks to strong doubles play on courts no. 1 and 2. Liberty took the opening decision on court no. 3, 6-2, behind the play of Mariely Hassey and Groeneveld. CSU rallied back with a 6-4 win on court no. 2 with Mi'Kola Cooper and Koussenkova topping Dollar and Crist.
Cloessner and Luecke topped Liberty's Anderson and Camacho, 6-4, on court no. 1, to secure the doubles point and put the Bucs ahead 1-0.
Liberty nearly took the match in singles play as the Flames rattled off three straight wins to take the 3-2 lead. Hassey topped CSU's Kimberley Koerner on court no. 4, 6-3, 6-3, while Dollar topped Cooper on court no. 3, 6-3, 6-3, to even the score at 2-2. Camacho finished shortly after with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Morar on court no. 6.
How Winthrop Advanced
Winthrop advanced to Sunday's championship match courtesy of back-to-back 4-0 results against No. 8 Longwood and No. 5 UNC Asheville. The Eagles took the doubles point in both matches and continued to showcase the depth of their lineup with straight set singles wins to return to the championship match.
Winthrop tops No. 5 UNC Asheville in Big South Semis
Winthrop took the doubles point at No. 1 and No. 2 for a 1-0 lead. At No. 1 Megan Kauffman and Lauren Proctor defeated Hannah Francisco and Kylee Shipley 6-3, while at No. 2 Caitlin Cridland and Alisa Soloveva defeated Hunter Hall and Lauren Watson-Steele 6-0.
Winthrop extended its lead to 2-0 at No. 2 when Soloveva defeated Watson-Steele 6-1, 6-2. Proctor gave the Eagles its third point at No. 1 when she downed Francisco in straight sets of 6-1, 6-1. Winthrop clinched the win at No. 3 when Cridland defeated Christin Louw 6-1, 6-3.
13 in a row: Buccaneers down Winthrop to remain undefeated in conference play
Charleston Southern showcased the overall depth on its lineup on April 8 as the Buccaneers picked up their 13th consecutive win in topping Winthrop, 4-3, at the Buccaneer Tennis Complex. Winthrop took the doubles point to hold the early 1-0 advantage, but the Buccaneers picked up singles wins on courts 2, 3, 5, and 6, to hand the Eagles their first loss in conference play this season.
Sophie Cloessner broke the 3-3 tie on court no. 2, rallying from a first set deficit after fallling 6-1 to Alisa Soloveva in the opening frame. The junior rallied back with a 6-0, 6-2 win over the second and third sets to clinch the match for the Bucs.
All six members of Winthrop's singles lineup have posted double-digit wins led by 2017 Big South Player of the Year Lauren Proctor (20-2). Alisa Soloveva (16-6) was recognized as the conference Freshman of the Year after posting a strong 16-6 mark in her first collegiate season. The doubles duos of Soloveva/Cridland (17-5) and Proctor/Kauffman (15-7) have also been strong for the Eagles in 2017.
Scouting the Bucs
Five different Buccaneers have posted double-digit singles wins on the season as Mi'Kola Cooper joined the Bucs with her 10th win on Friday morning against Presbyterian. Sophie Cloessner leads CSU with a 17-2 overall record on the season lining up primarily on court no. 2. Kimberley Koerner (15-3), Valeria Koussenkova (15-2), and Yana Morar (12-5) also have double-digit wins for the Bucs in 2017. In doubles play, the tandem of Cloessner and Luecke led the Bucs with a 12-7 record.