Atlanta, Ga. - The N.C. Wesleyan women's tennis team is headed to the NCAA Tournament! Head Coach Albie Brice's Bishops stamped their ticket with a 5-3 win over top-seeded Methodist University in Sunday's USA South Tourney Championship! This is Wesleyan's second league tournament crown in program history as the Battling Bishops previously brought home the trophy in 2015.
After inclement weather moved the title match to Georgia Tech's Indoor Facility in Atlanta, the 2nd-seeded Bishops and Monarchs finally got underway at 4:00pm in a much-anticipated third meeting. The two squads had previously split their regular season and conference tilts by 5-4 scores, with each team winning on its home court.
With neither squad having a homecourt advantage this time around, it was Methodist that jumped out to a 2-1 lead after doubles play. Freshman Giulia Zanetti and sophomore Nicole Halabi picked up a key point for the Bishops at #3 doubles where they downed MU's Ashton Walker and Ashley Greeson by an 8-4 score.
In singles play, freshman Louise Hovhammer knotted the score at 2-2 with a straight-set win at the #6 seed (7-6, 6-1). Zanetti proceeded to put NCWC on top with a 6-3, 6-1 win at #2 over Methodist's Davi Barbour, while junior Stephany Barbera brought the Battling Bishops to within a point of the championship with a 6-3, 6-2 win at #5.
Methodist's Ashton Walker later made the score 4-3 with a win at top singles, leaving #3 and #4 singles on the courts in decisive matches. Freshman Talitha Rowan did the honors for the Bishops at the fourth seed, edging MU's Laura Brown 7-5 in the first set and cruising to a 6-0 win in the second to seal the 5-3 victory and ignite the Bishop celebration.
Wesleyan had reached Sunday's title match via a thrilling 5-4 win over West top-seed Piedmont College in Saturday's semifinal. Like Methodist, the Lions had forged a 2-1 lead after doubles, with the Bishop duo of Zanetti/Halabi tallying Wesleyan's lone point with an 8-2 victory at the #3 slot. The Bishops quickly erased the deficit with straight-set wins by Rowan, Barbera, and Hovhammer at #4 through #6 singles, respectively, while Zanetti's 6-2, 6-4 win at #2 clinched the match.
With two wins in Wesleyan's opening round 7-2 victory over Covenant, Zanetti managed to go undefeated in her USA South Tournament debut. She racked up six total wins at #2 singles and #3 doubles en route to Most Valuable Player honors. She was joined on the All-Tournament team by Rowan and Barbera.
The Battling Bishops (12-3) will now await opponents and seeding for the 2018 NCAA Division III Tournament slated for early May. Please continue to check www.ncwcsports.com for updates as more information becomes available.