May 9, 2010

Courtesy of Lynn

BOCA RATON, Fla. - Lynn University's fourth-ranked women's tennis team topped fifth-ranked Valdosta State 5-3 in the finals of the 2010 NCAA South Regional on Saturday at the Perper Tennis Complex. The Fighting Knights title is their 14th consecutive regional crown since joining the NCAA in the 1997 season.

Battling to stay alive on the season, the Blue and White (23-3) took the friendly side of a doubles split going into singles. The Blazers (13-5) picked up the first point as Tina Troutmann and Raphaelle Durante topped Jessica Yanoff and Tessie Salame 8-2 in the second position.

Answering back, Eleonora Iannozzi and Christine Johnstone responded with an 8-3 win over Dominique Rothlander and Sonya Haggstrom in the third flight.

With momentum going to the winner in the top spot, all eyes were on Court 1 as Lynn's Katarina Jiskrova and Magdalena Ekert squared off against VSU's Hollie Bees and Natalie Gumbrecht. Trading games and leads throughout regulation, neither duo would give an inch as the match went into a tiebreaker.

After the first changeover tied 3-3, the Knights tandem rallied off three-straight points to take a commanding 6-3 lead. Unwilling to concede, the Blazers answered in full with a 3-0 run of their own to knot the score at 6-6 at the second crossover. Holding off the Knights' fourth match point at 7-6, Bees and Gumbrecht couldn't keep the LU pair at bay as Jiskrova and Ekert earned the hard-fought 9-8 (9-7) win in the tiebreaker.

Valdosta State evened the score early in singles as Haggstrom topped Johnstone 6-0, 6-0 in the sixth spot. Unfazed, the Knights responded with wins from Yanoff and Iannozzi in the fourth and third positions, respectively. Yanoff cruised to a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Bees while Iannozzi dispatched Troutmann 6-2, 6-1.

Leading 4-2 and needing a lone point to advance to its 14th NCAA Round of 16 appearance in as many years, Lynn had its remaining three singles matches pushed into third sets. The Knights' advantage was trimmed to 4-3 as Gumbrecht came from behind to outlast Jiskrova 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the top flight.

Looking to put the match away, Ekert put the burden on her shoulders in the second slot against Durante. After dropping the opening frame 7-5, Ekert bounced back to take the second set 6-1. Tied 4-4 in the third, Ekert broke Gumbrecht and closed out the LU victory on her own serve in four consecutive points.
Lynn moves on to the NCAA Round of 16 next week in Altamonte Springs, Fla., hosted by Rollins College and the Central Florida Sports Commission. The Knights face 12th-ranked Abilene Christian in their opening match on Wednesday.