2011 MAC Women's Tennis Tournament Champion: University of Akron
Story courtesy of Akron Sports Information
Ypsilanti, Mich. - Natalia Kuvakina scored a three-set, last-match-on-court win at No. 6 singles to give the second-seeded University of Akron tennis team a comeback 4-3 victory over top-seeded Miami (Ohio) in the Mid-American Conference tournament championship on Sunday at Ypsilanti High School. The Zips (20-4) claimed the program's first-ever league title and were competing in the championship round for the first time in school history.
With the win, Akron has earned the MAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship. Pairings will be announced on Tuesday at 5 p.m. ET via NCAA.com, with the first and second rounds to be held on May 13-15 at regional campus sites.
Down 3-2, UA's Prang Pantusart posted a 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 win over Megan Martzolf at No. 3 singles to even the score and set the stage for Kuvakina's heroics. The Zips freshman dropped her first set 6-4 to Cara Wald, but got a 6-2 and 6-4 decision in the next two sets to score match point and make Akron the victor.
The Zips opened the day by winning the doubles point. The three pairs flights were decided in numeric order. Martzolf and Stephanie Danesis downed UA's Zara Harutyunyan and Angelina Jogasuria at No. 1, 8-3, but Pantusart and Angelika Jogasuria defeated MU's Riekie Honiball and Jessica Parr at No. 2, 8-2. The Akron duo of Anya Baronayte and Jeremie Benjamin claimed the crucial early point at No. 3 over Wald and Anastasia Dracheva, 8-5.
On the singles court, Angelika Jogasuria lost to Danesis at No. 2, 6-1, 6-4, to make it 1-all, but Harutyunyan got the best of Dracheva at No. 1, 6-4, 6-2 to give the Zips a 2-1 edge. Akron then gave up the Nos. 4 and 5 singles positions to fall behind, 3-2. At No. 4, MU's Nimisha Mohan got the best of Angelina Jogasuria 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 and Honiball took down Baronayte at No. 5, 6-3, 6-2. UA completed the comeback with the victories at Nos. 3 and 6.
The Akron win contained another milestone as it was the program's first-ever positive decision in the all-time series versus Miami (19-6), with the RedHawks having claimed the previous 20 meetings. Miami won the tournament title the last two years and was the MAC regular-season champion the last three seasons.
"This is a wonderful moment for our University and our team," first-year Akron head coach Brandon Padgett said. "I'm especially proud of our seniors, Anya (Baronayte) and Jeremie (Benjamin), as they clinched the doubles points for us, which was extremely crucial. Defeating a talented team like Miami means a great deal to us and we expect this to turn into a serious rivalry."
Sunday's conference title, the fourth in 2010-11 for an Akron Athletics team, rounded out an exciting week for the Zips tennis program. At Thursday night's tournament banquet, Harutyunyan was named league player of the year for the third-consecutive season and also earned a spot on the All-MAC First Team for the third-straight year. Additionally, Pantusart and Angelika Jogasuria were named to the all-conference second team. Those three all-league selections tied Miami as most of any league member this year.
Two Zips were named to the all-tournament team - Harutyunyan and Pantusart. Harutyunyan was also awarded MVP.
Along with the tennis program, Akron Athletics teams have claimed the men's soccer tournament championship (also regular-season champion), men's basketball tournament title (played in title match each of the last five years), and men's indoor track championship (first in program history) during the current academic year.
University of Akron
Emily Reuland - BGSU
Maria Nivia - WMU
Stephanie Danesis - Miami
Nimisha Mohan - Miami
Prang Pantusart - Akron
Zara Harutyunyan - Akron (Tournament MVP)
Tennis Match Results
No. 2 Akron vs No. 1 Miami
May 01, 2011 at Ypsilanti, Mich.
(Ypsilanti High School)
No. 2 Akron 4, No. 1 Miami 3
1. Zara Harutyunyan (UA) def. Anastasia Dracheva (MU) 6-4, 6-2
2. Stephanie Danesis (MU) def. Angelika Jogasuria (UA) 6-1, 6-4
3. Prang Pantusart (UA) def. Megan Martzolf (MU) 6-3, 3-6, 6-4
4. Nimisha Mohan (MU) def. Angelina Jogasuria (UA) 7-6 (7-2), 6-4
5. Riekie Honiball (MU) def. Anya Baronayte (UA) 6-3, 6-2
6. Natalia Kuvankina (UA) def. Cara Wald (MU) 4-6, 6-2, 6-4
1. Stephanie Danesis/Megan Martzolf (MU) def. Zara Harutyunyan/Angelina Jogasuria (UA) 8-3
2. Angelika Jogasuria/Prang Pantusart (UA) def. Riekie Honiball/Jessica Parr (MU) 8-2
3. Anya Baronayte/Jeremie Benjamin (UA) def. Anastasia Dracheva/Cara Wald (MU) 8-5
No. 2 Akron 20-4
No. 1 Miami 19-6
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (2,1,5,4,3,6)
Mid-American Conference Women's Tennis Championship Match
Winner advances to the NCAA Tournament
Weather delayed the start of the match 30 minutes
Official: Lynda Henshaw
Time of Match: 2:38