SAINT LEO, Fla. -- Saint Leo defeated Lynn 5-3 to capture the NCAA Division II South Region II title at the Saint Leo Tennis Center in the second round of the South Region II tournament.
The women's tennis team becomes the first women's team to represent Saint Leo at a national tournament level, and is the second team total behind men's cross country, who made the national championship meet as a team in the fall of 2013.
The Lions fell to an 0-1 deficit in doubles to open the day as the No. 4 duo of Vale Confalonieri and Iona Ivan defeated Pauline Helgesson and Paula Montoya, 8-3 in the top flight. Maria Benkirane and Adrianna Daszkiewicz evened the score at 1-1, taking down Alilna Jane and Kim Przeszlowski, 8-2 at the No. 3 position, and the tandem of Laura Kemkes and Anastasia Wagner gave the Lions the edge with an 8-4 win at No. 2 doubles against Rosalie Willig and Andrea Berkova.
Lynn knotted the score at 2-2 as No. 1 Confaloniere defeated Coralie Pesenti 6-0, 6-1 in the No. 1 spot, but Benkirane helped the Lions gain the lead once again as she took down Berkova at No. 4 singles 6-1, 6-3.
Kemkes pulled the Green and Gold ahead 4-2 with a 6-4, 6-4 win against Ivan in the second slot, but a hard-fought battle at No. 5 singles pulled Lynn back to within one. Jane took the first set in the No. 5 flight against Montoya 6-1 but Montoya battled back to win the second set 7-5. Jane clinched the victory in the tiebreaker, defeating Montoya 6-1 to set the overall tally at 4-3 in favor of Saint Leo.
Daszkiewicz clinched the victory at No. 6 singles, defeating Przeszlowski 7-6, 6-3 to send the Lions to the Round of 16.
In the third spot, No. 48 Wagner and No. 40 Willig were in the midst of a 4-6, 7-6, 0-1 battle that went unfinished.