AUM won its 12th women's tennis national championship on Saturday, defeating Embry-Riddle, 5-2.
Women's Tennis - Sat. May. 19, 2012
MOBILE, Ala. ----- Sophomore Jade Curtis scored the match-clinching victory with a three-set win at the No. 2 singles position, as the Auburn University at Montgomery women's tennis team defeated Embry-Riddle, 5-2, to earn the 2012 NAIA Women's Tennis National Tournament Championship, its second consecutive and 12th overall, Saturday at the Mobile Tennis Center.
The Warhawks finished the season with a 26-2 record, including a 19-2 mark against teams ranked in the top 25 of the NAIA and NCAA Division I, II and III. The championship also marks the eighth time in nine year that AUM has taken home the championship banner and the 10th in 13 tries since the NAIA adopted the team format in 2000.
"I thought our returners played really strong, setting the tone from the beginning of the week," head coach Rolando Vargas said. "This championship was such a complete team effort, especially knowing we had to be at our best against a very good team like Embry-Riddle. It has been an absolute honor to be part of this team all season long."
With the championship within its reach, Curtis wrapped up the title with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 victory over Rocio Frej. The victory not only clinched the match, but also a perfect 22-0 singles record during the 2012 season for Curtis.
"It was obviously a little nerve-racking when you know you are that close to winning at national championship," Curtis said of the match-clinching point. "I was able to put that aside and my motivation to win was greater than my nerves. I am so happy for our team and to have won a second straight national championship."
The Warhawks took a 2-1 advantage following doubles, winning matches at both the No. 1 and No. 3 positions.
AUM took the inaugural point of the match, when Kveta Hajkova and Morgane Zowczak earned an 8-0 victory at the No. 3 positions. The Warhawks extended their lead to 2-0 when Curtis and Ana Veselinovic capped a perfect doubles season with an 8-1 victory at the top spot. Hagar Caro and Tiffany William fell at the second position, 8-2.
In singles play, the Eagles (23-4) rallied to tie the match with a straight-set victory by Ekaterina Kamendova against William at the No. 3 spot.
However, the Warhawks regained the lead for good after Zowczak rolled past Kristina Marova, 6-3, 6-2, at the No. 4 position.
Hajkova forced match point with a straight-set victory at the five spot, winning 6-0, 6-3, against former AUM standout Josefine Strom, setting the stage for the deciding point by Curtis.
During the award presentation following the match, Veselinovic was selected the Marvin P. Richmond Outstanding Player of the tournament. The senior from Herceg-Novi, Montenegro, finished the season with a 23-2 singles record, playing nearly exclusively at the top position. She also teamed with Curtis for a 25-0 doubles record.
"It is such an honor to have my career end as a national champion," Veselinovic said. "This year's title was so much different than last year, not being down two points from the start, but this one was a total team effort. This is a sad day for me know my career at AUM is over, but I know I gave everything that I had to the team and feel like I accomplished all my goals."
In addition, Vargas was awarded the NAIA Women's Tennis Coach of the Year award following the match.
1. #1 Ana Veselinovic (AUM) def. #6 Yi Ching Chen (ERAU), 6-4, 5-5, unfinished
2. #9 Jade Curtis (AUM) def. #17 Rocio Frej (ERAU), 6-2, 4-6, 6-1
3. #22 Ekaterina Kamendova (ERAU) def. #14 Tiffany William (AUM), 6-0, 6-0
4. #42 Morgane Zowczak (AUM) def. #34 Kristina Marova (ERAU), 6-3, 6-2
5. #20 Kveta Hajkova (AUM) def. Josefine Strom (ERAU), 6-0, 6-3
6. Hagar Caro (AUM) vs. Paola Montero (ERAU), 2-6, 6-2, 1-3, unfinished
1. #1 Jade Curtis/Ana Veselinovic (AUM) def. #4 Yi Ching Chen/Josefine Strom (ERAU), 8-1
2. #11 Rocio Frej/Ekaterina Kamendova (ERAU) def. Hagar Caro/Tiffany William (AUM), 8-2
3. Morgane Zowczak/Kveta Hajkova (AUM) def. #19 Kristina Marova/Paola Montero (ERAU), 8-0
Order of Finish (Doubles Played First)
Doubles - 3, 1, 2
Singles - 3, 4, 5, 2