Barry blanks UDC in Round of 16
Buccaneers face California-Pa. in quarterfinals on Thursday
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Barry University is moving on.
The Buccaneers women's tennis team shut out District of Columbia 5-0 in the first round of the NCAA Division II Championships at EP Tom Sawyer Park. The Bucs (25-0) advance to play California-Pennsylvania at 9 a.m. ET Thursday at Top Gun Tennis Academy in the semifinals. Barry beat Cal-Pennsylvania 7-2 in early March.
"This is just the beginning," Akemi Maehama said. "We won, great, but we have to keep focused. We just have to keep it together. We need everybody together."
The No. 2 Bucs were together all right on the first day of the national tournament, bumping their record to 25-0.
"Our lineup is going to be a little bit different since we played them in the middle of March," Bucs head coach Avi Kigel said. "It's been two months since then and we're playing better, and I think they're playing better themselves.
"I think the girls are very excited to be here. We got to go one by one. We're definitely very confident to play [Thursday], but we have to take each match at a time."
Barry didn't waste much time in racing to a commanding doubles presence as Caroline Wendling and Linda Fritschken secured the first win -- an 8-0 sweep against Columbia's No. 3 doubles pair Tadai Abilla and Sofia Leon in a match symbolic of assistant coach Sergio Velez's "I just chill" philosophy.
Olivia Matuszak and Julie Stas dusted off Maxime Duijst and Kristyna Nepivodova 8-2 at No. 2, and 15th-ranked Mona Mansour and Cristina Valladares beat Jessica Nunez and Maria Vitkina 8-3 at the No. 1 flight to give the Buccaneers a 3-0 lead.
"It's a great feeling. We've been looking forward to the tournament for a couple weeks," Bucs head coach Avi Kigel said. "We started on a good note."
Matuszak, who replaced the 46th-ranked Stas in the singles lineup, rolled to her second win of the day with a 6-0, 6-0 win against Maria Vitkina at the No. 3 spot to secure the Bucs' first singles point and fourth in the match.
Caroline Wendling, bumped up from No. 6 to No. 4, was a game away from securing her 71st career victory. But after Kigel inserted Maehama and Sarah Krohnen into the lineup, the lower flight finished first. Maehama, the Japanese-descent Miami native coming off a week in which she won a physical education scholarship, beat Tadai Abilla 6-1, 6-0.
"I am so grateful, thankful for everything, my teammates, my family," said Maehama, the exhiliration of winning a national tournament match overcoming her. "Everybody understands that we want this so much. I'm so blessed to be here. I really thank God that I am here standing. Everybody can not do this."
Just as not every team is fortunate to still be standing. Only the strong survive at this point. That's where strong depth, an asset the Bucs possess, comes into play.
"We're happy about that. We're very lucky to have really good players like Sarah and Akemi at seven and eight," Kigel said. "We wanted to give them an opportunity to play, but also they help in giving some of our other players some rest."