West Florida routs Saint Leo 5-0 to advance to NCAA Round of 16
SAINT LEO, Fla. -- After dominating Gulf South Conference opponents en route to four consecutive 5-0 victories, No. 3-seed West Florida went up against No. 2-seed Saint Leo from the Sunshine State Conference in the NCAA South Region Final with a chance to advance to the NCAA championships on the line.
The Argonauts held nothing back and continued to roll with a 5-0 victory against Saint Leo to advance to the Round of 16 for the first time since 2008.“We’ve got a good team,” UWF coach Derrick Racine said. “All year we’ve come so close in big matches, losing to Hawaii Pacific 5-4 and Abilene Christian 5-4. Just as of late, we’ve been kind of getting things going and firing on all cylinders.”
UWF (21-6) extended its winning streak to five matches, shutting out its opponents in each match during that span.The Argos started the match strong, winning Nos. 1 and 3 doubles with scores of 8-3, 8-2, respectively.
“It was probably our best match of the year for doubles,” Racine said. “No. 3 finished very quickly. At No. 1, we played really well. Monika [Kochanova] played well all day.”The match at No. 2 doubles was the difference maker. Seniors Luiza Sonnervig and Mariana Sonnervig led 7-4, but failed to convert the match point and eventually trailed 8-7. The twins sisters refused to be denied, however, and forced the match into a tiebreaker before winning 9-8 (7-4).
“It was insane,” Luiza Sonnervig said. “We were up 7-4 and had a match point and then we went down 8-7. We were very, very nervous. But we knew that it was the most important point, because it would change the whole match to start 3-0. We just gave everything and it changed the match.”With a 3-0 lead heading into singles, Monika Kochanova once again dominated her opponent, winning 6-0, 6-0 for the consecutive match to put UWF up 4-0.
Luiza Sonnervig then clinched the match victory with a 6-4, 6-1 victory at No. 2 singles to extend her winning streak to 11.The Argos will join the men’s tennis team in Surprise, Ariz. for the NCAA Championships May 8-11. The men’s team defeated Lynn 5-4 to qualify April 28.
“After seeing the men do it, we were more excited,” Mariana Sonnervig said. “We used it as motivation, wanting to join them.“After we won the semifinal against Valdosta (April 29), we were talking to some of the guys,” she said. “They were like, ‘Now it’s your turn. Y’all can do it.’ So we thought, now it’s our turn, we can do it.”
It’s the first time since 2008 that both the UWF men’s and women’s tennis teams advanced to the NCAA Championships in the same season.“It’s a big accomplishment,” Racine said. “It’s the toughest region in the country. You know both teams are among the top teams in the nation, because it’s a tough thing to do in our region.”