May 9, 2010

Courtesy of California (PA)

CALIFORNIA (May 8) - The No. 6 Vulcans advanced to the Round of 16 in the NCAA Division II Tournament for the fourth-consecutive season after defeating Charleston (W.Va.), 5-0, on Saturday morning at the new tennis complex in Roadman Park.

The California University of Pennsylvania tennis team extended its win streak to 12 matches while improving to 23-5 overall this season. The victory advances the Vulcans to the Round of 16 as the champions of the Atlantic Region No. 1 Tournament. Cal U will face No. 28 Grand Valley State (Mich.) in the Round of 16 on Wednesday, March 12, in Altamonte Spring, Fla. Meanwhile, Charleston ended its season with a 22-8 overall record.

"What makes this team so special is that we have tremendous leadership, especially from our captain Nina Kowalski, who has done an incredible job leading her team and setting a good example," said head coach Pablo Montana. "The girls really like each other, there is a good chemistry and we all believe in the same goal."

The Vulcans continued their dominance in doubles play, sweeping the three matches for the 12th-straight match. Freshman Jutta Bornefeld (Varel, Germany/Lother-Meyer Gymnasium) and junior Laurie Navarro (Eysus, France/Jules Supervielle) opened the match with an 8-1 victory at first doubles against Neha Rana and Davina Holtfretter. Sophomore Anastassiya Zherdeva (Almaty, Kazakhstan/Gumnasia Number 60) and freshman Jade Pondicas (Johannesburg, South Africa/British International Distance) followed with an 8-2 win over Christina Samoilov and Sarah Monsheimer at the second position, while sophomore Axelle Fernandez (Toulouse, France/Institut Familial) and junior Nina Kowalski (Hofheim, Germany/Man Taunus) completed the doubles sweep with an 8-5 victory at the third slot against Ilaisanne Carter and Laura Smith.

Fernandez added to the lead when she swept Carter, 6-0, 6-0, at fifth singles to become the fifth Vulcan with 20 victories in singles play this season. Pondicas then clinched the match victory when she collected a 6-1, 6-2 win against Smith at the fourth position.

The weekend marked the first tournament played at the new six-court complex, which was officially dedicated on Wednesday afternoon.

"It was really exciting to play at home and to have great support. This is without a doubt one of the nicest facilities in the country and of course in Pennsylvania," said Montana. "By being able to practice on our courts the past few months, it's great to know what you're going to expect."

Cal U has advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament twice in the last three seasons, including last year when it lost to eventual-National Champion Armstrong Atlantic (Ga.), who entered the NCAA Tournament as the No 1-ranked team in the nation.