SAVANNAH, Ga. -- Senior Caitlin Siney returned from a recent illness and captured a straight-sets win at No. 6 singles to help rally Francis Marion to a 5-3 win against Wingate on Sunday morning in the opening round of the NCAA Division II Women's Tennis Southeast Regional.
The fourth-seeded Patriots improve to 15-6 and will face top-seeded Armstrong Atlantic (24-1) in Monday afternoon's regional title match at 2 p.m. ET. FMU has advanced to the regional title match seven times in the past eight seasons.
Wingate, which defeated FMU 6-3 during the regular season, took a 2-1 lead after doubles play. Francis Marion won its point at No.2 doubles where freshman Samantha Koelliker and senior Kimberley Hurter defeated Sierra Parsons and Morgan Winston 8-3. The Bulldogs won 8-5 at No. 1 doubles in a battle of regionally ranked duos, and Wingate won 8-4 at No. 3 doubles.
Wingate took a 3-1 advantage with a straight-sets win at the No. 5 singles position. Siney, playing for the first time since April 13, earned a 6-1, 6-1 victory at No. 6 singles for her first singles win since March 26. That victory brought FMU to within 3-2 and started a string of four singles wins the Patriots needed.
Koelliker won 6-3, 6-3 at No. 1 singles to even the match at 3-3, and the Hurter won 6-0, 6-0 at the No. 4 spot to give the Patriots a 4-3 advantage.
Francis Marion junior Julia Graf clinched the match with a 6-3, 6-0 victory at No.2 singles. Graf improved her season mark to 16-4 and her three-year career singles record to 52-8.